Designers and audiences are feeling for more intimate shows this fall. Jason Wu secured the bijoux Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim as his location. “I wanted to change it up a little bit,” said Wu, who did so not only by moving his collection uptown, but through design as well. “I’ve been in the industry for a minute and I feel it’s important to push myself,” he said. “I think you know I love dresses, right? But tailoring is also something I love—I actually majored in menswear.”
So it makes sense that Wu chose Marlene Dietrich as his muse this season. The German actress used fashion to play with gender at a time when such things were taboo, and the mix of masculine and feminine elements in her wardrobe inspired one of Wu’s strongest offerings to date. Change was evident from the first exit, a grey blazer/dress with a sculptural ruffle over one hip and an unfinished lapel in the deconstructionist mode the designer favoured this season. It was a nice way to build upon the ’90s influence he introduced last spring.
The collection also spoke to a growing weariness with the glossy and altered world of the internet. The German photographer Karl Blossfeldt’s un-retouched images of flora inspired a print in the collection. His way of “seeing things in such a perfect but imperfect way is something I think we’re all going back to,” said Wu. “We’ve been in this over-Photoshopped, over-filtered world; I think it’s nice that realness is coming back.” (Seeing some of that realness in terms of body diversity in the casting would have been a plus.)
Wu said this was one of his moodiest collections, and the pairing of a fragile dress with a sturdy coat that might have been borrowed from a lover added an erotic element at the same time that it felt like a modern way to approach evening wear. Speaking of eroticism, the fringe on the dresses at the opening of the collection was actually bra straps with metal sliders; an ingenious and signature idea. It was also nice to see lingerie dresses that were revealing without being totally sheer for a change, as that’s how most women would actually wear them. The choice of bodysuits and briefs rather than strings for a look like the delicately beaded finale dress, with its gorgeous T-back detail, felt novel in this thong-happy world.
The collection offered both flapper and hourglass silhouettes. In the latter category was a red blazer in toy-soldier red. Also nicely fitted was what might be a perfect LBD, with a scoop neck and angled seams and an asymmetric skirt under which fringe fell ever so gently, like stamens from a flower.
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This story was originally published on Vogue.com.