Everyone loves a Vera Wang bridal gown. But when it comes to ready-to-wear, Wang doesn’t get her due. She is one of fashion’s most daring designers, certainly in New York and even beyond.
For fall, Wang returned to her New York showroom after several seasons of holding appointments in Paris. This time, she showed on models who didn’t need a tricked-out set to perfectly capture the collection’s Celtic warrior theme, their undone hair and sturdy pilings seamlessly transmitting an earthy tribal vibe.
The designer took a fabrics-first approach, coming upon plaids she loved and, after having them reworked in colors she loves — black, navy, charcoal — wanted to “find a new way to express the plaids.” In determining just how, she came upon the Celtic concept, and was particularly taken with the tonnag, a blanket-like piece. That became her entry point. She then swirled, draped and piled mannish fabrics usually not intended for that purpose into intricately undone dresses, skirts, wide trousers, aprons and an intense, darkly romantic ballgown. (Would that an Oscar actress would dare!) Along the way, she integrated plain wool, georgette, sequins and exquisite custom lace. It all ebbed and flowed so that you couldn’t always tell where one piece ended and another began. As for patterns, Wang included a single, high-impact print, pilfered from the medieval New Testament masterpiece, “The Book of Kells.” She also did some heartfelt signage, running the Scots Gaelic words for loyalty, bravery and constancy down sleeve and pant leg. A lovely thought, if not for everyone.
Truth is, nothing here was for everyone, though the collection is not as outré as it looks. Broken down, many of the tailored pieces have range, and there is an accompanying commercial lineup. But despite her bridal reach, when it comes to everyday dressing, Wang just doesn’t have a mass aesthetic; her clothes are out-there and flamboyant in their sobriety. As such, they’re for women unafraid of sartorial bravado. Just like those fabulous Celtic warriors.