There was no gong, but between the drums on the sound track and theForbidden City doors that opened the runway, no one was left guessing atJason Wu’s fall theme. “An Asian person doing an Asian collection. It’sa revolution,” cracked Wu at a preview the day before his show, notingthat he did not decide to go there thematically because — news flash —China is booming. “It’s been booming for a long time,” said thedesigner, who lived in Taiwan until age nine and went back a year agofor the first time since starting his business.
In allseriousness, tackling Asia was a risk. Wu broke his heritage into threeparts — Mao military, Qing dynasty and the Forties Hollywood glamour of“Shanghai Express” — shown in consecutive order with a through-line ofsleekly tailored strength. If not handled carefully such archetypes canquickly morph into their down-market relative, otherwise known as acliché. Wu handled all with calculated polish and savvy commerciality.Any costume-y flourishes were intentional, i.e. the fringed hat toppedwith a pearl ornament. Other than that, this was Wu’s most severe andsophisticated work yet. A belted, army green puffy jacket was quilted atthe shoulders with a black lace overlay everywhere else except the bigmilitary pockets. Opulent embroideries, fur sleeves and collars infusedthe sharp tailoring with a regal air. Variations on the cheongsam dress,which is particularly prime for parody, were beautiful precision-cutsheaths, some with alluring keyhole necklines, others with lavishembroideries. For evening, Wu recharged a Golden Age glamour silhouettewith a strong shoulder, high neck and lean skirt that draped around thebody with a dramatic slit. It looked great in silk devoré velvet.
Askedif this was his most elaborate collection to date, Wu replied, “It’s mymost luxurious.” Working on his Target collection, in stores now, gavehim a new respect for what he considers true luxury. So he pushedhimself with the fit, the tailoring and the little things. Details, likethe sheared mink worked into embroideries, the technical, thermallining in the jackets and the brocade detail under the toe of a peep-toepump, were impossible to appreciate as models flew by.
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