Dozens of Matchbox race cars arrayed in tricolore stripes on the floor of a salon room in the Palazzo Clerici announced the theme. Thom Browne, who selects a new sport each season for his Moncler Gamme Bleu collection, had settled on Formula 1. As it turned out, the late, great Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna—subject of the 2010 documentary Senna—gave Browne the plot. "I wasn't that familiar" with Formula 1, Browne admitted pre-show. "But he was the coolest guy."
That Senna (who died in 1994 behind the wheel at the San Marino Grand Prix) would hardly have recognized the clothes he and his sport inspired is several laps beside the point. Sport is a launching pad for Gamme Bleu, which has run through fencing, fox hunting, and biking in recent seasons, and part of its zest comes from how far Browne can lead uniform attire astray into the realms of puffer fashion. A few mechanics' jumpsuits at the outset were fit for the pit crew. After that, the wheels spun toward what-you-will. There were shorts suits peppered with Moncler logos like sponsors' patches, and perforated pieces derived from racers' garb. On the salable end, Browne showed patchwork puffa suits of tartan and windowpane check, his now-standard blazers, and a few playful Chesterfield coats. An announcer read off the models' names and explained their looks as they paraded one by one. And while the wildest—a full-on boiler suit in Persian lamb—was introduced with barely a cough, one young man's getup was proclaimed "a look you can wear to the North Pole" (a long drive, that). Another was declared fit for his wedding day.
That one, actually, gave you pause. Thom can likely cycle through athletics for several more years without a blink. It looks as though he might. But imagine what fun he could have with that more traditional fashion-favorite blood sport: bridal.