Pull up a chair, grab the popcorn and settle in — Thom Browne is taking you on a journey.
The designer has created a 30-minute film that checks all the boxes he has become known for: American heritage-inspired fashion, gender-fluid silhouettes and sports references.
The film, which was shown Sunday morning during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, builds on the movies he created for his last two collections: the first in the L.A. Coliseum last October for his spring 2021 line that featured Olympic athletes, and the second one in March that featured Lindsey Vonn skiing down Solitude Mountain in Park City, Utah, in a Thom Browne tuxedo to showcase the fall line.
This version, while just as dramatic, spotlights a single figure — Dominique Hollington, a model and marathon runner, who has worked with Browne for more than a decade.
“He’s one of the guys I’ve used in my shows for a long time and he’s a runner,” Browne told WWD in a virtual interview from Milan. “It was important for me to work with somebody I’d known for a long time. He’s a really young guy, but there’s something really old soul about him. You really felt like this was a true story and he was living this life. I didn’t realize how perfect he was for this until I saw the initial footage and I really believed it.”
The film, titled “Looking Forward to Tomorrow,” opens with a panoramic shot of an open field and the only sounds are those of birds chirping. Eventually, a lone runner is spotted way off in the distance and the viewer watches while he makes his way through the field on a dirt path created by tire tracks. Hollington is wearing compression tights and top in Browne’s signature gray with red, white and blue accents.
The path ultimately leads him to an open wooden box that Browne created in the middle of field and which replicates his bedroom, complete with a bed, table and chair.
“The initial idea I had was being in the middle of nowhere,” Browne said of the location outside Santa Fe, N.M. “I think there was something really special about conceptualizing how he lived and where he lived — just the beauty of the nothingness is such a part of the film.”
After a good night’s sleep, Hollington dresses in a Thom Browne seersucker jacket and skirt, tops it off with a straw hat, laces on sneakers, puts a shoulder strap bag on his back, grabs a suitcase and sets out walking. He winds up at a coliseum structure where the scene and the music changes. Hollington, the other athletes and the crowd are transformed into figures created from circles, squares, ovals and triangles. These figures compete in sports ranging from swimming and cycling to gymnastics. The last sport is the marathon, where Hollington’s figure is eventually victorious. He then returns to his solitary home in the field.
“I’ve gotten really interested in being able to create moods and show how I approach things in different ways over this year and a half,” Browne said of his move toward movies. “With film, there’s something really special in creating something that can last and tell a story — and that’s what I wanted to do. It was a story to speak to what really inspires you. To me, it’s athletes at the height of the Games but also someone who is confident in their own being and being by themselves. That’s really what this story is all about. Of course, it’s about a runner who has competed against the same runner for his whole career but is very comfortable living his own life and very singularly focused on doing something really well.”
Browne said that although the compression tights and sneakers are new to the collection, the rest of the pieces are familiar. And by having Hollington wear a skirt, it reinforces a direction he feels strongly about.
“The accessories are ideas that have been around for a while and the seersucker has been around since Day One,” Browne said. “And I love the idea of the pleated skirt becoming a part of a man’s wardrobe.”
But since Browne is planning to show in New York in September to support to his longtime partner Andrew Bolton, who is curating a show on American fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, this effort was not intended to be a collection reveal.
“Because I’m doing the show in September, I wanted the clothes to be part of his life, but I didn’t want it to be a big part of the story,” Browne said. “I wanted who he was and what he does to be what the film’s all about.”
The film also allowed Browne to remain involved in Paris Men’s Fashion Week, where he’s shown his collection for the past few years. “I feel like I always need to be doing something,” he said. “I had the idea and I really felt strongly about bringing the idea to reality. I love being in Paris and it’s important that I always have a presence in the men’s week in Paris. But I also feel that it’s interesting that I show things differently. Of course, I can do in-person shows and big productions in person, but this being a new approach and image piece is also something that I feel strongly about for men’s wear.”
Browne wouldn’t reveal what he has in the works for New York, but said: “It’s going to be really special. I really put the pressure on myself to do something that is going to make the world see there’s a lot of interesting things happening in America.
“But this film speaks for itself and I want people to just fall into the beauty of it and the solitude of it. The quiet nature of the film and the length of it really speaks to just enjoying it and falling into this beautiful, singular world,” he concluded.