Thom Browne’s Couture Show Was the Real Olympics Opening Ceremony

a woman in a white cape
Thom Browne’s Couture Show Was Olympics-InspiredDaniele Schiavello

You sense that Thom Browne likes rules, even if only so that he can break them. His collections often situate themselves in hidebound worlds, from the Catholic mass to the midcentury office.

a person wearing a coat and boots
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And, of course, the intricacies of the playing field. So as Paris braces for the Olympics, leave it to the only designer with his own football league to mash up sports with haute couture. (He wasn’t the only one on the couture calendar to look to the Games for inspiration, of course: Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her own, very different, take on the theme at Dior.)

a woman wearing a white coat and white shoes
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With the GOAT Serena Williams holding court in the front row, the designer unveiled his second-ever couture outing today. The show began with a visually arresting tableau: models in white blazers, sunglasses, and kilts, linked by a tug-of-war rope. That palette of cream and neutrals persisted throughout the collection, which used muslin, typically employed as a drafting fabric, and gave it an Olympic-sized podium on the couture stage. (Even guests got their own lab coat-like smocks in the material.)

a model wearing a white ensemble and a gilded headpiece
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Browne pushed the possibilities of couture with gilded headpieces and almost outrageous assemblages of 3-D flowers. The sportif theme found its way in via decidedly non-athleisure-oriented fashion that was a far cry from the Challengers tenniscore we’ve seen so much of this year (though much of it did bear Browne’s signature preppy piping.) Enviable musculature was embroidered, in luxe style reminiscent of the much-talked-about Bodies exhibition in the early-2000s, onto a high-necked Victorian gown. Even the footwear was a fusion of avant-garde and athletic, with gilded, deconstructed takes on the classic cleat.

a person wearing a white dress with red embroidery
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The Olympics’ ancient Greek origins inspired discus thrower and laurel motifs, while the finale nodded to the upcoming Games with looks in bronze, silver, and gold. One might even call it the first medal ceremony of 2024.

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