Friday, June 05, 2009

‘Wu’ ing the Crowd


(All photos: Randy Brooke)

Jason Wu has admittedly had quite a year, thanks not only to the press (he is up for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear, along with Thakoon Panichgul and Alexander Wang, the results of which will be announced on June 15th during the festivities at Lincoln Center), but of course, the ongoing support of Michelle Obama. The First Lady is not only an avowed fan and customer, but helped catapult him to worldwide fame when she selected his long white gown for the Inaugural Ball. Among other ‘endorsements’, she appeared on the cover of the March issue of Vogue wearing a fuchsia dress by the designer, and selected one of his coat and dress ensembles for that now famous trip to Europe with the President back in April.



He was also one of a handful of designers to present a formal Resort 2010 show this past week. But instead of using his showroom, a well known hotel room, or a predictable hall, as his venue of choice, he wisely opted for two rather intimate (if not downright ‘civilized’) back to back showings at the decidedly out of the way, under the radar, Greenwich Hotel. Located on a quiet cobblestone street in Tribeca, it is only a year and a half old, but boasts old world charm, elegance, and European ambience (all of which were apparent in the room he used for the showings, which was adjacent to a beautiful courtyard, where waiters served guests drinks and elegant hors doevres; it made me think I was in Paris). It was apparently selected by the designer because (as he told Fashion Week Daily), he likes “the environment down there - it’s like the city away from the city.”



I must admit I was especially intrigued when I read that the collection was inspired by Iris Apfel, the fashion icon whose eccentric, colorful sense of style was immortalized when the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute mounted ‘Rara Avis’ several years ago. I am a huge fan and had the pleasure of interviewing the fab octogenarian for our Masters of Fashion Interview Series awhile back.



Granted, the designer warned Fashion Week Daily that his collection is not “literally taking the way she wore things but making spirit and the mood in a way that’s very much in line with what I do”. But based on his admission that he has always loved her “style of piling everything but the kitchen sink”, I assumed there’d be more of an apparent connection. While I thought the collection was beautifully executed and very much in keeping with the mood of the moment (and Mr. Wu’s feminine aesthetic), quite frankly, it was a bit of a stretch for me to really find any parallels between Wu and Apfel within the 20 piece lineup which was filled with wispy chiffon, tulle, jersey, crosshatched tweed draped separates, tulip skirts, coatdresses, trenches, envelope sleeved tops, corseted and peplumed waists (much of it very very short and rendered in soft, barely there colors, sometimes hit with strong ‘highlighter’ shades of yellow, green, cobalt, fuchsia, and red). There certainly wasn’t a “random pileup of accessories”, as aside from the chic customized Bruno Frisoni high heeled sandals (in arresting and graphic combinations of black with gray, cobalt, yellow, and red) the only jewelry shown was the ‘real deal’, courtesy from Van Cleef & Arpels. And no, Mrs. Apfel was nowhere in sight.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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