Vera Wang Spring 2008 Collection Review - Runway's Romanesque Renderings

Vera Wang is an intellectual designer. She is celebrated as an architect of modernity. The Roman-influenced theme of her Resort collection provided the foundation for this season’s inspiration as well. For Spring 2008, this classic romanticism was personified with wearable togas and t-shirt dressing. No one manipulates volume better than Ms. Wang with her peplum jackets that created cinched waists without feeling constricted; flyaway panels that sprouted out like wings; and loosely constructed languid layers that moved with the body as opposed to against it. Strong tree branches hung over the runway entrance as the first of three in a mini-medley of Beatles favorites played; like an anthem that welcomed spring’s universal theme of rebirth, “Here Comes the Sun” ushered out a sublime return to carefree summer dressing with 49 beautiful ensembles.

 

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

Little darlin' it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darlin' it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right

Little darlin' the smiles returning to their faces
Little darlin' it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right 

She’s the quintessential artist of modern luxury. But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day nor was the Vera Wang lifestyle brand.  From her tenure as Senior Fashion Editor at Vogue and her post as Design Director of Ralph Lauren to the launch of her eponymous line nearly two decades ago, the 2005 CFDA Womenswear designer is an unstoppable force who has built an empire that includes an extremely successful bridal line, ready-to-wear, a diffusion line, fragrances, home décor, tabletop, and now she has interpreted her beautiful designs for the masses with her new Simply Vera collection of apparel, accessories, and home for Kohl’s.

The program notes referenced the bridge between collections as Spring-Summer 2008 continued an exploration of the vibrancy and seduction of ancient Rome with all of its physical beauty, its poly-cultural society and long lasting influence on civilization. From the vivid color palette to the easy fluidity of relaxed silhouettes, this season, the collection was also punctuated with structure: carefully engineered cuts and volumes, and dramatic mixtures of weights, textures, and proportions. While there is real design emphasis on pants, trousers, and boyish shorts; dresses and coats worn as dresses, as well as sweater and skirt dressing—all helped to reinforce the modernity and nonchalance of the collection.

Silks, techno organzas, and “washed” satins were printed in nebulous cloud formations, etched lines, and a painted lurex brushstroke pattern meant to evoke the walls of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Other fabrics included: the thinnest of silk jerseys, techno-silk and modern wool gauzes from Japan; as well as crinkled organzas, raw heavy linens, peau de soie, and metallic basket weaves with a textured and wrinkled or paper finish. Loose featherweight sweaters, some transparent, with relaxed tensions represented a deliberate take on t-shirt dressing as did cotton tanks decorated with floating panels, blousy silk backs and pleated bibs and jerseys in the manner of Madame Grès or Vionnet.

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

Ornamentation this season, in true Roman style, was restrained and restricted to bibs of colorful engineered stones and metal bouillon thread artfully cut into collars, necklaces, and ornaments of leaves and flowers worn both on and off the clothes. Chain mail was draped and swagged like fabric while square cut sequin panels lightly adorned t-shirt tops. This spring gowns represented an integral part of the overall attitude—like t-shirts and togas, they reflect Ms. Wang’s hallmark of fluidity with the central focus on cut and texture rather than ornamentation. With such attention to a detail, the artfully placed accents of bibs and neckpieces often served as built-in jewelry.

“Spring-Summer celebrates clothes that are imbued with a lyricism and drama, particularly as it pertains to warm weather dressing. This season also represents a delicate balance between sophistication and naiveté, subtlety and vibrancy, femininity and a certain boyishness. From the colors found in Nature, which the Romans worshiped… to the colors of their civilization (as my imagination would have me believe) ancient Rome represented an energetic, romantic take on life from which to play with cut, color, and construction,” noted Ms. Wang.

Here I stand head in hand
Turn my face to the wall
If she's gone I can't go on
Feelin' two-foot small
Everywhere people stare
Each and every day
I can see them laugh at me
And I hear them say
Hey you've got to hide your love away
Hey you've got to hide your love away

This season the hair was pulled back in a low chignon; for the most part the face was bare with a blend of soft shadows that gently encased the eyes and pale pink lips. Woven gladiator sling backs accessorized the collection and the booties we’ve all coveted for fall will remain strong through next spring. The play on proportions was rich in design details from gathered, jeweled, and bib necklines to inset panels, draped tunics, and basketweave organzas. The color scheme was a signature-base of ink, charcoal, moss, and black, highlighted by the season’s pervasive use of jewel tones, here we saw plum and turquoise. Metallics carried over from last season with burnished bronze and silver adding a hint of sparkle to the rich palette of colors and textures.

From the graceful Degas ballerinas and origami folds of season’s past to this season’s Romanesque renderings, the collection’s intellectual and architectural properties of design always convey a dichotomy of simplicity tempered by an intricate beauty. Amongst this season’s fluid frocks were: a bronze duchesse overall with a jeweled neckline atop a cargo boy short; the charcoal washed charmeuse cap sleeve toga dress layered over a rust techno organza t-shirt with jeweled bib; an ink duchesse asymmetrical wrap coat over black bias Japanese crepe legging; the turquoise cloud print duchesse layered peplum belted jacket and side draped skirt; and a plum cotton jersey tank with a habotai back drape and forest metallic bouillon leaf detail paired with a black over-dyed duchesse pleated trouser.

My own love affair with Italy began as a child, while living in Europe, my mother was sent to Rome on assignment. As long as I can remember I’ve had an affinity for all things Italian—the language, the food, the art, the architecture, the land’s inherent beauty. Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. In its 12th century existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy, to a republic based on a combination of oligarchy and democracy, to an autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea through conquest and assimilation. Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology, and language in the Western world; its history continues to have a major influence on the world today. Thankfully, it has inspired Ms. Wang to create one of the most spectacular showings during New York fashion week and one of her most beautiful collections to date!

Images provided courtesy of Kim Riordan Photography, for additional images and information, please visit, http://www.kimberlyriordanphotography.com

 

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