At current breakdown, men’s wear accounts for nearly 90 percent of Hugo Boss’ almost 3 billion-euro business, with the balance going to women’s. The bosses at Boss know that it will never be an even split, but the ratios can be improved with a little investment. Last June they hired Jason Wu as artistic director of Boss women’s to raise the company profile and establish a strong aesthetic. Given the brand’s roots, tailoring was the obvious focus of Wu’s first collection. A Bauhaus reference or two, inevitable. Wu handled the Teutonic territory with graceful precision.
Spare and minimal in cut and finish, the tailoring was not without subtle femininity and movement. Wu worked in cashmere and silk in a classic, office-friendly palette of black, camel and gray. One of the strongest silhouettes was a long coat, slightly rounded at the shoulder, belted with an A-line skirt. It came in stricter variations with stiff collars and pretty plaid and leather panels for decorative interest. Throughout, the looks reflected the refined influence of Joe McKenna, who styled the collection. He and Wu made a smart pairing for the most part.
The one trouble spot came with some of the dresses, ironic because Wu is known for consummate romance, even if it’s been evolving toward something more tough and seductive lately. He knows how to make a dress — ask Michelle Obama — but when he tried to make sexy dresses out of men’s wear fabrics it felt forced. A more natural fusion of Germanic references and feminine flous were pale pink silk dresses done with graphic embroidery and softly pleated panels on one side.