“Maybe I’m channeling Chanel?” Vera Wang queried, motioning to the dressing area that, from that specific vantage point, revealed only black, highly constructed, mostly short clothes. Seeing the quizzical look on a backstage interloper’s face, she explained: “black and pearls.”
Most likely, Wang was thinking out loud and intended no reference to Chanel throughout her design process (nor could one be found on the runway). If she had, all the better — there’s nothing like an idea that, in its development, goes so far afield from its origin and becomes something else entirely. If in Wang’s mind every sewn-on pearl has its roots on the Rue Cambon, so be it — especially when it achieves its own rich level of intrigue.
In fashion speak, Wang’s perspective is a dark one, literally and figuratively. For spring, she showed in an all-black room, save for a graphic line of white block letters running the length of the runway: “Read Between the Lines.” Asked about it post-show, she offered that the statement referenced “everything going on, not just in fashion but around the world: fashion, politics, entertainment. Everything is in your face, but at same time subtle. It means there is so much more going on than we think.”
Before the show, she was razor-focused on the clothes. “Black,” she said. “Very, very tailored, incredible craftsmanship.” And powerful: “I’m thinking of women’s strength,” she said.
That thought came across in highly constructed clothes with deliberate, unfussy feminine touches. The prevailing silhouette: short and strict, with a skirt or shorts matched to a jacket with corset construction, often cropped and off the shoulder, with intricately wrought sleeves. These were sometimes layered over sheer white tanks. A new take on the power suit? You bet.
And an audacious rendering of the craft Wang works diligently to incorporate into her clothes.
Though Wang could have made the point more succinctly, especially given the overall darkness, her different-drummer mentality is laudable and smart. She did offer alternatives, whether a simple tank dress or a welcomed shot of the white stuff — long, airy shirt looks with stiff, strapped-on peplums. For evening, she reprised the off-the-shoulder motif and showed long, filmy gowns slug from the skinniest of straps. As for those pearls, they came in an abundance of giant baubles strewn across lean dresses and skirts. They won’t sit well, but on the runway, they walked the walk with panache.