Sip on This With Your Morning Coffee: Jason Wu & Monse at NYFW

I’m sensing a pattern in the way I review shows. For the spring season, I love it all, but in the winter, I wonder what we’re doing — why we’re even here.

But maybe that’s not just me, and maybe it’s the point. The designers spend all summer — in the comfort of their lightweight clothes alongside their iced drinks — thinking about what their women will want to wear the next time they experience climactic bliss. Whereas in February, we’re forcibly reminded that though winter might end in another month or so, another will come, and it will come with a vengeance.

Even the demure, often serious Jason Wu previewed a fair share of silly delight for next spring. There was a neon lace mid-length dress; multi-color, quite bright embroideries cloaked some of his gowns. The show opened with a shade of metallic blue and I’m pretty sure that in one strapless cocktail dress, he added his idea of the athletic stripe to the seams at either side.

The clothes are easy! They’re not stupid, they’re not certainly not normal (as a matter of fact, they’re kind of spectacular, you see that when you examine the delicate spaghetti straps sewn into the lightweight, angelic fabrics that compose Wu’s collection), but they’re easy.

This is an important distinction to make, because fashion has evolved. Plainness has had its day. Fashion is marveling in its own fun again — feeling kind of old-school — but not at the expense of comfort.

Monse was the hot ticket today, chiefly because it was announced in late August that the designers, former employees of Oscar de la Renta, would be taking over the helm of the storied house. So maybe we saw it through rose-colored glasses, hopeful lenses pointed towards a new day at our closest semblance to American couture. For better or worse, it was good.

A parade of white shirting paired with pinstripe bottoms opened the show, then made way for surprising sequined details, covering shorts and, in another instance, a belt that was worn as a choker, strap hanging down the model’s back like we saw last spring at Marques’Almeida. The separates became scarf dresses, then sequined gowns. One look featured a striped, embellished skirt; a sailor got in up top in a flimsy silk blouse with white piping.

It felt satisfying and refreshing — definitely industry old-school in the cohesive nature of the fully functioning collection.

When it was all over, I heard attendees murmuring that they’re “living for Monse” right now. I couldn’t help but disagree. I could appreciate all of it: the exquisite attention to detail, the precise manufacturing of stripes rendered entirely in sequins on elaborate, complicated shirts and dresses. But I don’t know that I want to wear all of it, which intrigues me even more. Here someone can enjoy artistry and craft, attention to detail and strong, smart design, without giving in to the subjective impulse of feeling like you have to have it. It’s like the fashion industry that once was, and perhaps will be again.

All photographs via Vogue Runway.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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