January 20, 2013 Paris
The designer's surreal scenarios always have some internal logic, a movie, perhaps, or an art moment he has dredged up from his memory. While you're watching Browne's shows though, it is much easier—and much more fun—to submerge yourself in a warm sea of free association. The house his "builders" were constructing today was the meeting place for men clad in his latest collection, who, in their sinister eyewear and signature down-the-rabbit-hole Browne-wear, looked like alien infiltrators of the stolid here and now, kin perhaps to the Strangers from Dark City or the Observers from Fringe. The fact that the hammerers had to blindfold themselves while the beings were in the house only compounded the sense that an eldritch cabal was convening before our very eyes.
Hey, ease up, honcho. It's just a fashion show. Or was it? Browne's designs have never been clothes as we know them, and yet there was a peculiar familiarity to these outfits. Some of them—especially the ecclesiastical, men-in-dresses aspect—came from his presentations in the past, but there were also quilted pieces and substantial outerwear that aligned the collection with the mood of the moment. And if one of the concerns of the season has been silhouette, Browne surely offered the very last word on that with his Pixar-sized exaggerations. But after the show, he offered a more telling rationale for his exercises in excess. They're all in the service of that gray flannel suit—the shows are gaudy bejeweled fantasias that highlight the humble gold ring in their midst. Lovely notion.