NYFW: JASON WU S/S 2017

Jason Wu S/S 2017
Jason Wu Spring/Summer 2017. Photo credit: Yannis Vlamos

Only those deep inside the fashion industry knew the young Jason Wu before he first dressed FLOTUS. “She’s touched my life in so many ways,” the designer said backstage in response to a question about the First Lady leaving the White House. Another example of Wu’s penchant for being understated. A lot has changed since he first became a publicly recognizable brand. He’s done car commercials, re-worked his company’s corporate structure, and dramatically altered what he sends down the runway.

Now, with a collection that won’t hit stores until Michelle Obama is once again a private citizen, Wu takes yet another turn with a collection that is beautiful, stunning, and dangerously sheer. The woman who wears clothes from this spring collection a) needs to residing in a very warm climate, and b) probably shouldn’t be running for political office. I’m not sure I should shock anyone with this news but, gasp, there are bare shoulders here. Remember that huge kerfluffle a few years ago when the First Lady dared to show her bare arms? These open shoulder looks might just cause some pundits to have a heart attack. There’s nothing conservative about this collection.

That being said, if you like the color blue you’re going to fall in love with the first few pieces from this collection. The very first look, with its satin asymmetrical micro pleats, looks like something the President’s eldest daughter might pack for a social event at Harvard. Perhaps her mom can put in a good word for her with the designer. The next four looks, with their off-the-shoulder cuts and generously flowing skirts, follow suit, all very tasteful and appropriate for a young woman.

Everything after that is in the danger zone. At first glance, the floral appliques are stunning. The brilliant pinks and yellows set against a black background with a black, gently-tapered slack, are the essence of elegance and refinement. At least, right up to the point one realizes that the black in the blouse is sheer and you’re going to want to use double-sided tape with that. In fact, if you’re a huge Jason Wu fan and just can’t imagine wearing anything else next spring, go ahead and order the whole case of double-sided tape. You’re going to need it.

Here’s the thing: these looks are drop-dead gorgeous. The creativity Jason employs in weaving opaque streams around the sheer panels is genius. The yellow piping on a sheer white dress masterfully diverts the eyes from where you know you shouldn’t be looking in the first place. Salmon piping on a masterfully constructed sheer navy dress looks electric. Fabric stretched and drawn to create asymmetrical patterns is both visually and engineeringly stunning. Piece after piece, the entire collection is perhaps his most beautiful yet.

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that one needs to consider carefully the undergarments one wears with these pieces. While there is a lot of carefully stitched embroidery, there’s no guarantee any of it is going to sufficiently cover what you want/need covered. Sheer has been increasingly popular the past three seasons, but Wu steps up the game dramatically with this collection.

Is it too much? Probably not. All the pieces are quite tasteful and many come with opaque jackets to help keep things modest. Choose your elements carefully and there’s no real danger at all. However, if you’re feeling daring, or just want to get a reaction out of someone, this is the collection you want to shop. You know you want to. Just go ahead. Do it.

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