"I want to do everything forbidden, everything you don't do." Helmut Newton said that. Surprisingly perhaps, the sentiment also fits for Jason Wu's new collection, which was influenced by the Newton retrospective that ran at the Grand Palais in Paris earlier this year. Provocation isn't traditionally part of Wu's arsenal; we don't need to remind you that this is the young man who dressed Michelle Obama for the
Inauguration Ball. Yet he poured it on today, accessorizing his mostly nude and black collection with leather harnesses, black net veils, and the deep red lipstick that model Nadja Auermann wore in some of Newton's famous pictures. Carolyn Murphy, who also posed for the legendary lensman, made a rare runway appearance, opening the show in a second-skin croc-stamped sheath.
Lace and leather predominated and often came together, as they did on a backless black apron dress with laser-cut flowers at the hem and a fitted nude sheath with a point d'esprit bodice and tulle insets zigzagging down the torso. Lillian Bassman was another reference point, and her signature black and white images provided an x-rayed floral motif that was its own innuendo. A collaboration with the lingerie maker La Perla provided ample cause for all the sheer chiffons Wu used. Another time, a tanned and taut midriff was on full display between a lace bandeau top and kicky leather skirt.
Does the dominatrix shoe fit? Some of the kink did push Wu dangerously beyond his comfort zone. The tailoring, though, was a strength. A pair of narrowly cut jumpsuits and a sleeveless blouse tucked into high-waisted stovepipe trousers hinted at the androgyny that was also famously part of Newton's oeuvre. Sexy? In spades.