In lieu of a runway show this season, Vera Wang released her fall collection via a fashion video on her web site and social channels timed to Tuesday’s ceremony in Paris honoring her as a Chevalier of France’s National Order of the Legion of Honor. In light of that, it was no surprise that the lineup was largely inspired by French history, specifically Napoleon and Josephine. Wang intertwined their personal history and signature fashion — military references; Empire waist gowns — with her own. Being knighted by the French is an impressive accomplishment indeed; it would be understandable if it went to Wang’s head. The film, directed by Yvan Fabing, captured her love of French culture, fashion, ballet and figure skating through a close-up, wide-angle lens of melodramatic grandeur that bordered on parody. Napoleon would approve.
Opening on Wang, sitting in a Louis XVI chair in a gilded Parisian salon, the camera lingers on the skyscapes of Paris, and Mariacarla Boscono walking up a grand staircase in a lovely diaphanous Empire dress. There’s Wang at a ballet barre, a figure skater in what appears to be a look from the collection. She narrates in a slow voiceover, declaring “It was Paris from the start that formed me, embraced me and ultimately saved me.” From what? She didn’t say.
The clothes themselves offered a more light-handed interpretation of the intermingling of French influence and Wang’s gothic romance. She melded men’s military references with gowns in interesting ways, for example, a black wool bandeau from which fell a gray tulle skirt with black embroidered feathers, and a fluid gold lame Empire gown with off-the-shoulder wool tweed sleeves. Gold and black painted feather embroideries nodded to a balletic “Black Swan” vibe. The graceful drama of trailing cuts of skirts, wool peplums and fur stoles was complicated a bit by the assembly required nature of the look, but Wang’s daywear — black wool military coats with gold embroidered details, military Bermuda shorts and one incredible cracked leather military shearling — was chicly self-explanatory.