With some ambivalence, Sharon Wauchob began a walk-through of her Resort collection by explaining that it materialized from watching a recent documentary, Teenage, about 1920s socialite Brenda Dean Paul (directed by Matt Wolf). The socialite part was less germane to her narrative than the idea that youth simultaneously reflects an era and transcends it. Did the collection skew younger? Not especially, although she threw some miniskirts into the mix and designed a few very lovely unstructured lace bras. (Note to Wauchob: Please consider a complete lingerie line.) She was more concerned with her fabrics being non-representational—lace that doesn't look like lace, embroidery that could be construed as appliqués—and relaxing her silhouettes. Lace, as it happens, has become a preoccupation for Wauchob, who sources rare varieties from mills that are on the brink of extinction and turns them into delicate, silken base layers and whispery skirts. At one point, the Irish-born designer acknowledged that customers might not realize that the openwork dotted sleeves of a shirt are actually a grid-like guipure, or that a striped skirt intersperses bias-cut silk chiffon with silk jacquard. These are esoteric details compared to the uncontrived ease of a gray cashmere sweater with a honeycomb-lace back or a black slipdress that appears suspended atop the body. But Wauchob is committed to craftsmanship either way.
For all the finer, feminine pieces, Wauchob also showed black trousers trimmed in extra-wide grosgrain and elongated coats—well-executed concessions to her masculine side. Elsewhere, she used an obscure embroidery technique called badla, which requires hammering wire into its desired shape, to create three-dimensional flowers. It's this level of detail and sensitivity that elevated the collection beyond a grouping of delicate slipdresses. The badla also appeared in swirly arabesques on classic leather sneakers. Wauchob says she is revving up footwear production, with a soft launch in time for the Resort delivery or Spring next year. Without question, hers are far less extroverted than the couture versions now available. With them, she succeeds in making the point that, contrary to popular perception, sneakers are not young in the least.