Thom Browne Fall 2013: Painting The Roses Red.

Thom Browne is a designer that you either love or hate.  His looks are always bizarre but fascinating.  He's been making headlines recently dressing the First Lady for some of her most public appearences...which may be a surprise to those of us who are familiar with Mr. Browne.  I would have paid good money to see the faces of some Michelle Obama fans who were keen to see the designer's Fall 2013 show.

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I am sure this is something that all Thom Browne fans are bored of hearing, but part of why I love this designer so much is because his vision always seems to morph the incredible tailoring and dark craftsmanship of Alexander McQueen with the sinister and bizarre imagination of Tim Burton to perfection.  So basically, two of my favorite things colliding in one place.  But let me be clear...Thom Browne is so much more than hybrid of other influences.

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His collection for Fall 2013 paid a visit to Wonderland.  So great.  There he goes again, picking out another one of my favorite things as inspiration.  The focus was on a visit to the garden of the Queen of Hearts.  In some ways, it was brighter than other Thom Browne shows...roses and matching red lips and nails.  I found myself feeling a bit out of my comfort zone because I was prepared to be more intimidated.  So, always surprised apparently.

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(All images c/o Style.com)

LFW Spring 2013: Mary Katrantzou, Topshop Unique & Vivienne Westwood Red

I can imagine that designing a collection for Mary Katrantzou is double the stress for the designer.  She is known for her inventive and bold patterns as much as she is for the garments and looks themselves.  That s**t ain't easy.  This season, I have to say, Mary K seems to have really hit her stride as not just a wild textile mistress but as a designer playing against all the big boys.  The notion of old postage stamps offered a romantic and slightly childlike feel to an otherwise hectic aesthetic.  I'm more than obsessed with the color palettes and would happily slide myself into any of the dresses and accompanying shoes given half a chance.

I love Topshop.  And I love Topshop Unique for being able to hold its own (and even be one of the most anticipated London shows) in a sea of designers that aren't directly attached to a high-street shop.  The collection was nice.  Yup.  Nice.  Upon first look, my thought was 'this looks like a real designer collection'.  But that was immediately taken over by 'but is that what I really want out of Topshop?'  I expected something more cutting edge and innovative.  It was nice but forgettable...probably because it looks like the less memorable moments in the New York and London shows that have already come to pass.

It looked like the waiting room in Beetlejuice.  So it's no wonder why I got so excited about the Vivienne Westwood Red show.  With 50s Stepford Wives meeting Tim Burton, Miss Viv forces me to fall in love with her more with every look I get.  For all the kookiness, the looks and silhouettes were a bit more refined than I have come to expect.  But I think they needed to be.  It's all about what you do with the personality after all.  Don't ever stop being you Ms. Westwood.

Being Tim Burton.

Sometimes I am totally ahead of the game and get to feel like a cool person 'in the know'.  Other times I am slow on the uptake and suddenly I am the last kid picked for a kickball team.  In the case of the amazing Tim Burton exhibit currently touring the world, I am the latter.  Which is super embarrassing because I am a huge Tim Burton fan.  Beetlejuice is one of the greatest films ever made.  Frankenweenie is a childhood Halloween memory for me.  And so on and so forth. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJc6A8tNgZI]

 

I missed this amazing exhibition in LA and NYC so was overjoyed when I found that it was showing at the French film museum in Paris while I was there.  The first day I had free after my course ended in the City of Lights/Love/Bread I dashed to see this show and it is one of the highlights of my entire visit.  Walking through the opening corridor with high ceilings painted in black and white stripes mimicking Beetlejuice's wedding suit, you feel like you're walking into the Burton brain and it's awesome.  Super creepy and super awesome.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mANsedYvsBs&feature=relmfu]

 

The exhibit is dedicated mostly to Burton's art, opening with a photography project he did out in a desert set-up like you've walked into an old stately home and are viewing their bizarre art collection.  It moves into a blacked out room, lit only by a flourescent light to show the colors of paintings done on black velvet on the walls around a central lit-up morbid carousel model.  I didn't want to leave that room.  I wanted it to continue on forever.  You felt transported and you began to feel like nothing more than a fly on the wall to the brilliance around you.  But you have to keep going and it just gets better.  The main art room has sculptures like the ones that come to life in Beetlejuice and the walls are lined with his artwork, sketches, models and animation.  There was one tear out of a notebook that struck me in particular...a poem about how much the writer loves his girlfriend until one day he notices a crack behind her ear and a pigeon perched on her head, realizing she is nothing but a statue.

It's dark but it's incredible.  The show opens with a quote from Burton explaining that he would always get upset that he couldn't draw the human form.  It wasn't until he finally told himself 'well, it doesn't have to be a properly human form' that he truly felt free and began to create the creatures we know and are introduced to through this exhibit.

Now, it isn't to say that his films are forgotten.  The second half of the show chronologically takes you through each of Tim Burton's films, starting with his 30 minute short through Disney, Frankenweenie, a dark ode to a boy's love for his pet dog.  Props from the sets and initial sketches and models of the characters are displayed.  Even notebooks flipped open to his original notes for a great idea for a film which will turn out to be Beetlejuice.  And at one point, you suddenly realize you're being overlooked by a huge topiary animal replica of those in Edward Scissorhands.

I'm sorry if it feels like I am giving it all away for those that will be going to see this show but I promise I'm giving away none of the magic.  Tim Burton is a master and a revolutionary on the way we look at life, death and the beauty of the unusual.

The show is running in Paris until August 5th and you can get all the information here.

(All images courtesy of Cinematique Francaise.)