Moncler Gamme Bleu Fall/Winter 2011-2012 -- The Royal Dog Show

Matthew Schneier review

One of the favorite guessing games of Milan fashion week involves Thom Browne and what kind of spectacle he might be preparing for his always-elaborate Moncler Gamme Bleu show. Last season, it was bicyclists at the Velodrome; the one before, in Florence, a barracks full of slumbering soldiers. This time around, the designer laid the scene at Centro Ippico Lombardo, a horse track a ways out of town.

At trumpet's call, five horsemen, in long red Moncler riding coats bearing the Browne tricolor stripe, trotted out to greet the chilly crowd. And then came the guys on foot, each trailing a reluctant beagle or two. The hunt gave Thom his juice. Cue jodhpurs, high boots, saddlebags, and puffer parkas stitched with shooting patches.

A red rider's coat in the Moncler archive was the departure point for all this. It set Browne on a spin through the fabrics of the chassé, the English houndstooths, and Prince of Wales checks you'd find at a country house party. There were tried-and-true Browneisms—a smattering of shorts suits, some collared with soft Mongolian lamb—and plenty of the quilted, covetable puffer coats that fly off shelves. But it seemed almost churlish to focus on them in the midst of so much spectacle.

Lord knows where Browne will go next season, but likely on hiatus from animal acts. The showman had a word of advice to those seeking to follow in his dramaturgical wake: "Don't work with dogs."


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