For Fall 2011, Vera Wang was inspired by Viscountess Thelma Furness, Lady Emerald Cunard, and The Duchess of Windsor Wallis. These aren’t names that exactly roll off the modern-day fashionista’s tongue. Ironically enough this triumvirate of muses is more relevant than one might realize, at least metaphorically. They were the doyennes, creative visionaries, affluent hostesses, and independent-minded women, who ascended in an early 1900’s social hierarchy. Models appeared onto the runway from behind pearly gates, as though they were taking a casual stroll on the grounds of a sprawling estate. Unveiling 36 new looks for autumn-winter, the silhouette of drop-waists, tiered hemlines, and fur peplums emphasized the collection’s three key components: dresses, outerwear, and fur!
“The grace, romance, and effortless style of iconic American women who fascinated English aristocracy during the 1930’s: Viscountess Thelma Furness, Lady Emerald Cunard, and The Duchess of Windsor Wallis all embodied a classic American spirit informed by British at its most glamorous.” According to the liner notes, Vera Wang was sartorially channeling and championing the courage, tenacity, and ambition of these women; perhaps, they might have worn these looks today. The pairing of outerwear, albeit luxuriously trimmed in fur and paired with long, flowing evening gowns, might seem at first glance counterintuitive, even rebellious—but this approach not only makes the pieces more accessible and wearable, but in one fell swoop it elevates the traditional idea of practical outerwear, without minimizing the opulence of an elegant cocktail dress.
Backstage, the designer celebrated this collection as an ode to romance and the craft of dressmaking. Dresses styled with rougher, edgier booties, juxtaposed the decadent against the rugged, where even evening gowns had hoods, adding a sense of practicality, just in case you are caught in a violent upsweep of winds. For the past three seasons with the economic decline, designers have increasingly underscored a message of pragmatic luxury, creating separates that shift seamlessly from day to night, identifying the workhorses of your wardrobe, and maximizing those items for the greatest versatility. What can be more appropriate on a blistering cold winter’s day in New York than a parka; except in Vera Wang’s exceptionally capable hands, outerwear becomes glamorously sculpted with oversized hoods and detachable fox linings.
Paradoxical themes in fashion offer a charming twist, when unlikely pairings or contradictory influences mesh, but here Ms. Wang stretches that tension further, by giving her gowns “couturesque touches,” knife pleating, crystal pleating, and accordion pleating. The designer known for gorgeous statement necklaces, appliqués, and embroiders, chose this season to focus on enhanced tailoring. Monochromatic palettes were especially strong this season, here we saw tonal looks in black, charcoal, brown, stone, and pewter that were offset by ivory, loden, mustard, cardamom, and dusty pink. With the gradient of color, fabrications, silhouette, and design details were more pronounced. While furs are not uncommon in the cooler seasons, Fall 2011 gave way to a heavier texture of goat, fox, and sable. We saw more quilting, pleating, pin tucking, and layering of softer, lighter, more diaphanous fabrications like chiffons with thicker, stronger, more durable blends of fur and leather.
Vera Wang said she wanted to take a walk back to some of the most glamorous and notorious women, but present in a cooler, hipper way. This new brand of utilitarian chic borrows pieces from a more rugged lifestyle, while reinventing them a slightly more delicate sensibility. Some of my favorite pieces to capture this concept best were the; black quilted satin scuba coat with fox harness and leather frame, atop the black pleated chiffon shell with sheer front and back neckline, and charcoal stretch wool flannel skinny pant with knife-pleated inset; the black quilted satin scuba coat framed in leather with fox peplum and detachable wool hood with black goat trim, and black chiffon accordion-pleated deep v-neck blouse; the brown leather cropped vest with grey detachable fox lining framed in leather and techno mesh back panel with fox collar, and charcoal cupro jersey v-neck tiered dress with French accordion pleats and stitching detail; the stone mesh faille jacket with detachable leather framed grey fox lining and oversized hood, grey sleeveless cotton blouse with multi-layer flange placket, and pebble chiffon skirt with French accordion pleats; the putty stretch faille sleeveless coat with detachable light grey faille framed fox lining and oversized hood with taupe goat and leather drawstrings, and smoke chiffon multi-pleated tiered dress with racer-back; the cardamom chiffon multi-pleated sleeveless gown with high-low hem, high collar, and stitching detail; and the dusty pink French accordion-pleated gown with high gathered neck and low cutout back with self tie.
For additional information, please visit http://www.verawang.com/