David Harbour Joins the Thom Browne Skirt Movement

Photography by Tina Barney. Courtesy of Thom Browne.

Is the skirt now a staple for Harbour, along with his three shirts? “I’m not there yet. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate it. It’s a bold thing to do still!” But, he says, “for a fashion shoot, it’s something like a fantasy space, and you’re creating a character and playing a role and that’s fun to test it out. I’m not quite brave enough to start to rock it in real life, but hopefully—*hopefully—*I’ll be there soon.”

For Browne, every guy that puts on a skirt is a part of the movement: “I think a lot of people see what I do and they don’t think that it can be for them. When you see David, or Lebron or Lionel Messi [in the skirt], I think it opens up their eyes and they realize, maybe I can entertain that idea.”

Photography by Tina Barney. Courtesy of Thom Browne.

Despite the excitement around gender fluid dressing, does Harbour think men still have outsize insecurity about looking a little different? “Yeah! And I have sort of the added burden of being known for a show about a cop in the eighties,” he said, referring to his starring role on the television show Stranger Things. He recalls that once on Twitter, a bunch of people realized he was married to singer Lily Allen and “started freaking out. Then someone said, You only freak out if you thought that David Harbour actually was a small town sheriff who lived in the eighties. I think there’s a bit of that put on me where it’s like, Wait a minute! That dude is supposed to be a local town sheriff who has a good heart, and is a little rough around the edges! So the fans might imagine this wealthy couple in matching skirts is a window into Jim Hopper’s secret double life? “We’re going to make 13-year-old girls around the world cry, because it’s for fashion!” he laughed. “It’s for a good cause. And it’s for opening up the idea that people have more inside than is revealed by simple imagery.”

Photography by Tina Barney. Courtesy of Thom Browne.

That layering of meanings was one of the reasons why Browne was drawn to working with Barney, who’s known for her uncanny imagery of wealthy WASP domesticity. “There’s always something a little off,” Browne reflected on Barney’s photographs. “There’s something not so perfect in the perfection.”

This is the latest in a series of projects that Browne has undertaken to reinvent or reintroduce the tailoring classics he created two decades ago, but which still raise eyebrows around the world. “At least in my mind, what I started and what I created in that gray suit twenty years ago, it’s timeless, it will always be around. And there’s something really important in showing it often enough so that people see it in different ways. And that’s the reason why the images are really important. The jacket and skirt and trouser that they’re wearing has been around for twenty years. But there’s something interestingly new-feeling about that.” Like the Wood-inspired image: “It looks so weird. And there’s something so beautifully weird about that image. And I think it’s really important that people see that this is how I like to show something that is very classic and commercial.”


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