President Obama, punk, pop culture, military, bar codes, and Chairman Mao. That's a pretty complete laundry list of the varying concepts that influenced Vivienne Tam
's latest collection. Backstage before the show, which auspiciously fell on Chinese New Year (as she pointed out), the designer explained that she has "really been interested in current events lately, and wanted the clothes to say something more than just fashion." Silk faille shifts and strapless gowns were printed with scannable cell-phone codes, as well as caricatures of President Obama sporting sunglasses. Regardless of Tam's intentions for those novelty looks, they served as a reminder that fashion and politics don't generally mix. That said, it would be pretty mind-blowing if Beyoncé wore one of those numbers while singing the national anthem—just a suggestion. Another one-shoulder dress, screened with a letter from Chairman Mao, did a better job at making politics sophisticated.
The most successful looks channeled the punk movement and seemed timely in light of the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition. A long-sleeve leather turtleneck paired with an asymmetrical zippered skirt that combined accordion pleats with houndstooth was admittedly badass, particularly when styled with short combat boots. A leather biker jacket with houndstooth quilting had texture and attitude that felt au courant. Focusing on more retail-friendly items like that jacket would increase Tam's good luck and prosperity in the New Year.