September 10, 2012 New York
One of Schlemmer's theatrical specialties was living sculptures, particularly stylized female figures. Browne has often treated the body as architecture. Among his own favorites in his new collection were the first looks, given a geometric edge with the use of neoprene. The Bauhaus ethos prevailed in pieces shaped, elongated, and stiffened into sculptural forms. As the palette passed from 1920s monochrome into 1950s Technicolor, the clothes became more patterned, more ornate, candy-fied, like the lollipop encrustations on collars and cuffs. It was almost a relief to return to somber black and white as the male models stepped forward to revolve Browne's women on those hypno-wheels as though they were carnival automatons.
Even given Browne's evocation of Schlemmer's Bauhaus cabaret, there was still ample room for bemused interpretation. All that hypnosis flimflam was a tidy metaphor for the hypnotic power of fashion. It took a darker turn when the men manipulated the women on their turntables. That suggested the classic male dominance scenario: Svengali using hypnosis to control Trilby in George du Maurier's 1894 novel. Then there were the preppy motifs that have always littered Browne's clothes. Here, he used whales and seahorses, but he rendered them as beautiful little skeletons too. Moby Dead? The end of prep? Saying nothing, Browne smiled a knowing smile.
His final outfit was a wedding dress on its own leash. Penderecki was replaced on the soundtrack by "Wuthering Heights," Kate Bush's paean to a woman driven crazy by love. At the end of it all, madness.