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Thom Browne is consummate showman at Fashion Week

Associated Press Modified: September 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: September 10, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — With nearly 200 designers showing their wares all over the city, for an entire week, it's virtually impossible to stand out, right?

Not if you're Thom Browne.

"I love to entertain," the designer said in what was, frankly, an understatement. He was standing in a corridor of the stately New York Public Library Monday afternoon after the first of three presentations of his womenswear show.

Emphasis on the word "show."

As the crowd entered the room, 10 male models stood against a wall in gray seersucker suits, their heads covered with huge silvery orbs — like Coneheads, but rounder at the top. At each end, a man played the xylophone.

Suddenly a flock of female ballet dancers arrived. They wore silvery pointe shoes (these were real ballerinas) and stiff hoop dresses, like the ones you'd imagine under Scarlett O'Hara's gowns. They took their places on small circular platforms painted with black-and-white spirals, and danced in place, en pointe.

Then came the models, in suits and coats and skirts, exaggerated in all sorts of ways, all in gray at first. Their hair was coiled into buns teased high atop their heads.

The men gradually took the women and circled them on the round platforms. As they did, other models entered, this time bearing splashes of color — pinks, greens, oranges. The color was highlighted dramatically against the sea of gray.

Browne, whose work was honored this summer at the White House, explained outside that he'd been inspired by a Bauhaus artist popular in the 1920s, Oskar Schlemmer, a German known for his choreography — "conceptual ballets," Browne called them — as well as his visual art. "This is my homage to him," he said.

It wasn't worth asking what Bauhaus had to do with singer Kate Bush and her 1978 hit "Wuthering Heights," which played as the presentation ended (the song also played at Wes Gordon's show earlier in the day.) Somehow, it seemed to work.


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