The first thing I did at the completion of Jason Wu’s spring/summer 2016 presentation was run and grab a bag of potato chips. It’s the power of cognitive association that comes from several minutes of looking at ruffles. Lots and lots and lots of ruffles. The designer warned us in advance. I should have grabbed a bag before I sat down. He’s been saying for days that this collection was about the ruffle and the reveal. The reveal was appropriately modest, but the ruffles were more than what I had prepared my mind to see.
Not that everything was ruffled, by a long shot. We were actually four looks in before the first ruffle appeared on an A-line shift with floral watercolor print. Prior to that, we were treated to a contemporary take on linen with broad, pseudo-unfinished edges that actually come off looking more like fringe. The fabric plays well, sufficiently light as we expect linen to be, but a bit more stiff and coarse so that it holds its shape better without requiring heavy backing that adds weight and causes one to perspire. The looks at sometimes actually feel a bit more autumnal than spring, but they really are meant for warm-weather wear.
Where the ruffles do appear, they most frequently are on a very light weight chiffon and carefully layered. When Wu talked about the “ruffles and the reveal,” understand the “reveal” part of that is whatever you are, or are not, wearing under the garment. His models weren’t wearing anything, so as the ruffles flopped freely in the natural breeze that comes with bouncing down a New York runway, one was tempted to add the popular #freethenipple hashtag to their twitter posts. The looks and the silhouettes are beautiful and extremely feminine, but outside the major cosmopolitan cities of the world where one hardly glances at the occasional peep of exposed breast beneath sheer fabric, one probably wants to invest in a set of camisoles to go with these dresses.
Jason’s collections are always very feminine and I can only guess that he was concerned that this season’s dresses (there are only a couple of sets of loose-fitting pants in the whole set) might be a little too dressy for the more casual aspect of summer. So, he paired his looks with open-toe sandals. We’re not talking those little dainty things we see on the feet of teenagers, either. These were thick, hearty, rugged sandals that could, theoretically, endure a ten-mile hike with full pack, were one crazy enough to actually try it in one of these outfits.
Almost surpassing the attention given the clothes was the “velvet red” lip the models wore, courtesy the artists from Maybelline, New York. The look is dramatic with faces that are, otherwise, largely clean with hair pulled tightly back. Social media has been buzzing about that lip since the first one graced the catwalk. Before you get too excited, though, let me remind you that Maybelline products are manufactured at a facility just off Interstate 40 in the middle of Arkansas and their record on animal testing is less than stellar. Take that for whatever you think it’s worth.
Looking at diversity on the runway, this was not Jason’s most stellar season. Out of 36 looks, only five were worn by models who are not Caucasian. He’s done better. We’ll give him a three because he opened with a black model, but beyond that I was disappointed with all the extremely fair-skinned blondes in the lineup.
We’ve seen ruffles on some other collections today as well, so we may be on to a trend for the season. Hopefully the colors cheer up a bit, though. Now, back to my chips.