Elegant Janet Jackson showed up at Thom Browne’s spring 2023 show wearing a look that deftly blended masucline and femine prep codes. The academy-ready gathering was a characteristic movement of what Jackson excels at.
Jackson has been obscuring and blending traditional gender limits throughout recent decades: That square shaped curiously large coat she wore in “When I Think Of You;” Her form-fitting “Rhythm Nation” military clothing; A cowhide bandeau matched with loose pants at the 1993 VMAs.
“Even when I was a kid, I loved wearing the suits and the ties and the bow ties,” Jackson says. “I was very much so a tomboy and I still am at this stage in my life.”
Thom Browne has become a solid choice for Miss Jackson at this stage of her life. The singer tenderly refers to him as “Thom Up,” a sign of approval for the designer’s capacity to reliably lift and improve.
Janet Jackson wore a knockout look by Browne, which included a sensational formal hat that worked as a shrewd callback to Jackson’s The Velvet Rope Tour, at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards.
Jackson, 56, says the process of putting together a look with Browne is effortless. For her appearance at Browne’s Paris Fashion Week show, Jackson says she told the celebrated designer,
“What I was looking for: that I wanted to wear one of his incredible hats, how I wanted my shirt to be, that I wanted to wear one of his school boy jackets and a skirt. He basically took it from there and boy, did he take it.” Trust and understanding seems to be a key part of their relationship. “I’m paraphrasing but in a nutshell he was like, ‘I got you. Let me send something over.’ And that really was it… He truly is a genius.”
The eventual outcome was a delightful marriage of Jackson and Thom Browne’s unmistakable style. Jackson wore a skillfully trimmed and custom fitted dress suit, a transcending bee colony esque haircut, stage heels, and a Money Road prepared calfskin carry.
Jackson says she was glad to be back to Paris — a city that holds exceptional significance to her — for Browne and Louis Vuitton’s particular shows. When asked about her favorite experiences in the City of Lights, she responds,
“I have two memories of Paris. My memory of being here the very first time, I was fourteen years old. I remember falling in love with [the city] immediately. I was here with my sister, La Toya, she was on a promo tour for one of her projects and my mother. That’s when I knew I wanted to come back to Paris and that I was going to come back to Paris. It was just as beautiful then as it is today.”
Her second standout memory involves filming the video for the 1989 Rhythm Nation ballad “Come Back to Me.” “That’s so unforgettable to me,” Jackson says. “Being in that apartment. Such an iconic apartment I should say.”
Y2K keeps on being a significant trend of shows in Paris and other style capitals, from Diesel’s hug of bright moto cowhide coats to Fendi’s strong celebration of the Baguette, an It bag of the early aughts. Jackson herself is surely on many people’s Y2K moodboard, namely her 2000 “Doesn’t Really Matter” and 2001 “All for You” looks.
“The visual for [“All For You”] that was taken from Gaultier,” Jackson says of the fashion on display in the technicolor, Dave Meyers-directed video. The connection is straightforward: For his spring 2001 collection, the revered designer sent out models wearing bits and pieces of leather jackets—a single leather sleeve here, the left half of a jacket there.
Jackson adopted the daring aesthetic for the memorable finale in “All For You,” pairing a sliced and diced half leather jacket with a bandage crop top and a diamond-encrusted bra. The rest is pop history. Her advice for anyone trying to master the early aughts look is simple: go for the Gaultier.
Jackson feels a similar attraction to Browne and his designs. When asked about her affinity for the designer, the multi-hyphenate performer can’t help but to sing him major praises.
“His magic and his imagination is beyond,” Jackson says of Browne’s standout qualities. “That’s what I love about him. He can go anywhere and do anything. And he just lets his imagination go. And I love that about him—that creativity.”