NYFW: Vivienne Tam F/W 2016

Vivienne Tam F/W 2016
Vivienne Tam F/W 2016

This was another one of those evenings when it was challenging to decide which of multiple shows walking at the same time would get my attention. Zac Posen was very tempting, but I ended up watching Vivienne Tam because she was the more likely of the two to be adventurous. Now that I’ve actually seen both collections, I’m sure we made the right choice.

Ms. Tam named this collection Cultural Dreamland: The New Silk Road and proceeded to take her guests upon a trip across Turkey, Western China, and on up into what is now Russia. Ms. Tam brilliantly re-interpreted ancient iconography and symbolism and then use her needle and thread to tell amazing stories. Full of rich earth tones, with emphasis on a very deep burgundy and dark greens, she weaves a multi-cultural mosaic that invokes ancient carpets and American quiltmaking.

The range of fabrics in this collection is significant. From bulky knit sweaters with patterns of ancient talismans, she jumps to embroidered parasol flowers on ultra suede. She uses recycled fabric for evil eye patchwork, then ever so lightly applies quilting to jacquards and lays in needle punched fabric. She pairs these with the greatest of care and a creativity that is artistic and practical.

This is a reasonably large collection, about 45 pieces, so there is a lot of variety. One can expect roomy jackets with rounded shoulders, nicely draped capes, generously cut trousers, a few gaucho pants and some very snuggly sweaters. Of the batch, expect the sweaters to be out of stock first. Not only are they over-sized and well crafted, her re-imaginations of ancient symbols and talismans is a bit like a story woven into the garment, the details of which you write as you wear it. Jackets and capes can’t help but be very popular, also.

It seems inevitable to me that, somewhere in the future, several of these garments are considered museum-worthy. The artistry Ms. Tam has sewn into these pieces is quite amazing and I can only hope that the women wearing them are artistic themselves and find the clothing inspiring of their own creativity.

One should also not that, as we often talk about a lack of diversity on the runway, this one was as delightful a rainbow as one is likely to find, which was quite refreshing. The new silk road is quite cosmopolitan.

More from charles i. letbetter

PFW: DIOR A/W 2015

Dior’s creative director, Raf Simons, is considered by many to be a...
Read More