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The latest installment in the ‘Selects’ series of Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum opened this month in New York. Taking a journey into the museum’s extensive archive, Thom Browne has selected key elements from the collection to present a reflective perspective for this immersive installation.

From a starting point of reflecting on uniformity as a means of expressing individuality, the fashion designer has selected 50 mirrors and frames from the museum’s product library and positioned them in a fanciful setting. Alongside contemporary highlights from his own collection that have been paired with hand-selected items picked by the museum’s curators, the exhibition is a delightful display of curiosities in a space that is enveloped with a sparkling sheen thanks to the holographic material that covers all surfaces.

Of the Cooper-Hewitt presentation the designer comments, ‘I want people to appreciate their individuality. That is what’s behind Thom Browne Selects, with all the reflective surfaces – mirrors, mirrored walls and floors, and silver-plated shoes and desk. It is the idea of making the true individual stand out by looking at one’s reflection and appreciating it. At the same time, everybody feels that they are part of this installation, as opposed to just viewing an installation at a museum.’

The juxtaposition of uniformity and individuality is glimpsed in the nickel-plated replicates of the designer’s leather lace-ups laid out in orderly lines. The metallic lustre enhances the objects’ beauty and the slight differences in each, from the dimples in the material to the shoelaces. The designer continues, ‘Perfection is not as interesting as imperfection. It’s like a wrinkled shirt or unpolished shoes or trousers not the right length – those little things are imperfect, but with self-confidence you make them your own.’ The installation opened on 4 March and can be experienced until 23 October 2016 at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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