New York Fashion Week opens with Jason Wu
The designer certainly made an effort with a handsome tropical setting, carting in over 1,000 trees and 12,000 pounds of fine white sand on to the roof of Spring Studios, a key professional show space in downtown Tribeca frequently used by American designers.
“I was inspired by my home away from home, Tulum. I wanted to create a collection that reminds me of the bright, tropical hues that recall so many memories,” said Wu, referencing the historic Mexican resort.
It was impossible to notice anyone in the audience; as the models marched through the palms, alocasia and banana trees. With The Jenga Building and the Freedom Tower forming a dramatic backdrop, this was an accomplished entry into the New York collections. The beginning of a uniquely low-key season of 24 days of shows that will finish in Paris on the evening of Tuesday, October 6 with Louis Vuitton.
The actual collection captured the current yearning for looser silhouettes, forgiving clothes and need for optimism during the pandemic. Entitled Paradise in the City, its Caribbean coastline inspiration was evident throughout. Wu’s e-invitation was an airmail with an illustration of a runway chair under a palm tree on a beach; his stamp read Forever Jason Wu.
Using a cast of some 25 models, Wu showed a very much after-hours summery selection that opened with crème caramel linen perforated dresses; pant and tunic ensembles in cricket stripes; feminine picnic dresses; and some very cool print frocks vertically divided into contrasting natural or graphic prints. Everything worn with flats, from chunky tire track sandals, to river running athletic looks finished with pearls.
All cut with real aplomb – from the flared dresses with straps or flouncy cotton skirts; to the culottes in pacific blue or the excellent putty-hued gathered cocktails which had real authority. A couple of stylistic tricks – courtesy of Ludivine Poiblanc - whether wearing bras outside the print cocktails, or finishing the looks with big straw hots or sou-westers adding a nice touch of nonchalance.
Wind-blown, with the sense of balmy days of summer, and worn by a largely American cast of models, even if finished off by quirky Belgian catwalker Hanae Gaby Odiele.
Many of the biggest shows in Manhattan will take place on the roof of Spring Studios, which also provided a show compere and TV host – respectively Lilliana Vazquez and Zanna Roberts Rassi, well-known fashion E! News fashion enthusiasts.
The latter interviewed Wu, a veteran restaurant junkie, in a 15-minute rambling discussion about keeping an Instagram food journal, and making over 200 meals, from paella to focaccia; to how he managed to organized fittings during Covid.
“We are New Yorkers and we are tough, and we stick together in this crazy situation. I moved here over 20 years ago to New York, a city I love. I spent my entire life before New York trying to move here. I never wanted to show anywhere else,” explained Jason, dressed in all black, with matching a black GMHC mask.
During the lockdown he worked closely with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) on their Distance Yourself from Hate campaign; raising money via mask sales. Wu also stressed that all the trees on the roof will be recycled via A Visconti Garden Center, Brooklyn’s biggest plant purveyor.
Though his NYC studio closed during lockdown Wu continued working with his team in China, to produce two resort collections this year; and pulled off tons of zoom casting to make this show happen.
“What I wanted to see for seven and a half minutes, which is how long our shows last, was four months of our hard work, so people could forget we have all these problems and escape to Tulum, where I got married,” concluded the designer.
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