Vera Wang keeps pushing the limits in ways no one seems to expect. We should, but we don’t. I’ve mentioned the past few seasons how surprising her ready-to-wear collection is when compared to her wedding gowns. I’m not even going to bother with such a comparison this season. They don’t even look remotely similar. This side of Vera Wang is edgy, sexy, and dares you to be the same.
Walking down a runway with the words, “Read between the lines” printed down the center, Ms. Wang sent down a collection that is entirely black and white, colors she enjoys exploring. The first look is a black shirt and shorts, the shirt pulled down dangerously low off the shoulders. The look is disarming. She follows that with more off-the-shoulder looks, several of which she pairs with white ribbed sleeveless tees, the kind often attributed to working class men in rural environments. Sleeves on almost all these looks run extra long, a trend we’ve been seeing for a couple of seasons now.
There is a lot of lace in this collection. One trick that Ms. Wang seems to enjoy is creating a front that appears very buttoned-down and conservative, then backing it with nothing but lace, or in some cases, leaving the back completely open. We see a set of casual dresses with black lace backed with white cotton on one side, then reversed on the other. The looks are as playful and teasing as they are attractive.
What surprises me in this collection is the number of sheer pieces she includes. Again, sheer isn’t something new; Ms. Wang has been including a handful of sheer pieces for quite a while. This season, though, she doesn’t limit herself to a few pieces or carefully selected sheer panels. Instead, she goes all in on whole dresses that leave little or nothing to the imagination. What’s impressive is that these are likely to be some of the most beautiful dresses encountered so far this season. Some are covered in large pearls or beads. Others are just sheer fabric gathered and stretched and masterfully put together. What really stands out are the black dresses with trains. Yes, there’s more than one. Yes, they’re all completely sheer. These dresses are so inherently beautiful that you’ll be tempted to buy one regardless of the social norms of your community.
Another important element to consider in this collection is what Ms. Wang does with sleeves. We typically don’t pay a lot of attention to sleeves, especially in a season where the dominant look is to not have any so that shoulders are left bare. Ms. Wang doesn’t take that approach, though. She finds ways to leave shoulders open while exploring a number of different designs with the sleeves of her garments. She is forcing us to re-think how garments are constructed and how they should be worn.
With each passing season, I fall a little more in love with Vera Wang. She is not only adventurous and daring, she demands that we actually think about the clothes that we’re putting on, what they mean to our lives, and the alternatives for how we wear them. This isn’t always a comfortable conversation, but she proves that the results can be more beautiful than we might have expected.