Jason Wu has not one, but two shows this week. His debut collection as creative director of Hugo Boss will hit the runway next Wednesday. Before his own show today, he explained that the experience of working for the German company had him thinking about his namesake label's DNA. "It's going to be quite personal," he said of his new Fall collection.
It was clear that working with Boss, a company known primarily for its menswear, had him reconsidering his own style. Wu rose to fame on two traits: a flair for the sportif and, most famously, a sophisticated dressiness that belied his youth (see both of Michelle Obama's inauguration gowns). Today's outing was no volte-face, but you did notice differences in his approach. Whereas a year ago he was all about a corset, power shoulders, and aggressive femininity, here his coats came with the rounded shoulders, full upper arms, and straight waists of forties and fifties tailoring. A peacoat slashed at the hips below four metal buttons looked great, and there was serious drama in an eggplant leather overcoat that hugged the thighs above a long embroidered chiffon skirt. Overall, the silhouette was long and lean, but not curvy the way his clothes used to be. A lilac wool crepe pantsuit conjured visions of Marlene Dietrich in full drag.
The changes were even more distinct in his eveningwear. The feather confections you saw on his runway last February had already given way to beaded bias-cut slipdresses last September. Today, he dialed down the embellishments still further, letting gorgeous panne velvets in lilac and grape do the talking under oversize men's coats, draping silk chiffon and velvet devorés asymmetrically around the torso, and slipping little black camisole dresses underneath erstwhile utilitarian parkas that were bisected with industrial zips and patchworked with bits of fur. He'll score with those parkas.
It wasn't all hits. But in general we liked the direction Wu took here.