runway New York

Is There An Imposter in the House?

Were we really seeing Vera Wang’s Fall/Winter 2016-17 collection in New York? Or had we mistakenly entered a salon in Antwerp? The classic Vera Wang “look” was gone. Gone. Gone. Mercifully. But had Vera been kidnapped and replaced by an imposter? We were well over halfway through the show before we got any glimpse of what Vera is most noted for, but previously to that, nada. And then, voila, a refreshing breeze swept in.

Citing Giacometti for his long, lean sculptures and Modigliani paintings for their burnished color palette, Wang said the collection’s starting point was the classic fencing jacket. Indeed. Her plastron, a large chest-protecting pad worn by fencers, was strapped across the body in multiple ways on the runway, some more successfully than others. But in any case, the result was a real stretch, worthy of attention.

In stark black-and-white, the opening salvos in this assault on Vera Wang-dom were distinctly incendiary. Shown as barely-there halters or over crisp white button-downs, the effects ranged from chic back-support belts to clumsy, ill-proportioned bibs. Worn over cunning floor-length kilts or somewhat shapelessly draped evening skirts, this look is for the young and adventurous. And the tall. The very tall. As in other shows presented this season, we saw already-towering models wearing astronomically high platform shoes and ankle-socks, making them appear to be at least 620”. But for the sake of this show, the effect was stunning, multiplying the attenuation infinitely, and accented by

slim lines and hip-high slits. Even looks that didn’t quite work were intriguing.

Simple and severely tailored Star Trek-like pantsuits brought a funereal dose of reality that, while not quite as edgy, was distinctly more marketable. All-black sleeveless tops, zip-fronts and high collars were effective with skinny, cropped trousers that segued into a group of oversized, mannishly-tailored suits that assured us that Vera was stuffed into some dark closet with duct tape over her mouth.

Just in time to lull us back into submission, subdued color in hues of ochre, moss and slate made an appearance in some more distinctly Vera-like ensembles, diaphanus and layered prints that carried through some of the same fencing-like strappiness seen earlier. Veering into moss and bottle-green, a gorgeously monochromatic group sported quilting and kilt-ish buckles across the hip. Sky-high miniskirts dangerously peeked out only an inch below boxy suitcoats, forewarning us of trouble ahead. Sleeveless dresses in fur appeared innovative, even if awkward. That edged us into a color-blocked group of completely sheer Isadora Duncan-like gowns and chemises that seemed as racy now as they would have a hundred years before. But then the color-blocking was applied to bulky fur coats…sadly, artlessly.

The finale repeated color-blocking, more successfully this time, in Twenties-ish sleek, Erté-like barely-there dresses. These gowns are the surefire hits from the collection,the natural evolution of Vera, and destined to star on the Red Carpet… on someone like front-row fan Zoë Kravits, et al.

  • Stephen MacMillan Moser

    Stephen MacMillan Moser at his best