Thom Browne’s whale-shaped bag is inspired by Moby Dick

Thom Browne’s playful new handbag arrives as part of a collection that looks towards Herman Melville’s timeless tale of adventure and revenge for inspiration

Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2023 whale bag
‘Whale’ baguette bag in pebble grain leather, £2,660, by Thom Browne
(Image credit: Photography by Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*, fashion by Jason Hughes)

Thom Browne turned to Herman Melville’s perennial American novel Moby-Dick for inspiration for his Pre-Fall 2023 collection, which continued the designer’s reputation as one of fashion’s most voracious storytellers (the season prior, he staged a Cinderella-inspired extravaganza starring Gwendoline Christie in the gilded halls of Paris’s Opéra Garnier).

Scenes from the novel – which documents Captain Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of Moby-Dick, a great white whale – featured as motifs across the collection drawn from historical illustrations. Meanwhile, Browne’s signature shrunken tailoring took on a nautical bent, decorated with miniature sailing boats or matched with berets set off-kilter. Completing the look was a version of Browne’s dog-shaped ‘Hector’ bag – named after the designer’s own beloved dachshund – here playfully transformed into the shape of a whale.

Thom Browne’s Moby Dick-inspired pre-fall collection

Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2023 collection

A look from Thom Browne’s Pre-Fall 2023 collection, featuring Moby Dick-inspired illustrations

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thom Browne)

Throughout his career, the Pennsylvania-born designer has continually riffed on such American archetypes in his distinct, surreal style – most notably, an ever-evolving play on preppy Ivy League dress codes which has made him one of the country’s most familiar fashion exports. Now based in New York, the home of his eponymous label which he founded in 2001, Browne has recently been charged with ushering in the country’s next generation of talent as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a role he began in January 2023.

Discover our recent interview with Browne, on the occasion of his theatrical haute couture show in Paris.

A version of this article features in the August 2023 ‘Made in America’ issue of Wallpaper*, on sale 6 July, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.

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