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Vera Wang will tell you that she’s not a girly-girl, and that she constantly challenges herself to find approaches to dressing up for day that make sense for our increasingly casual lifestyle.
For fall, Wang hit on a powerful if simple formula: the juxtaposition of utilitarian outerwear against whisper-thin skirts and dresses, each one a masterful arrangement of intricately engineered pleats. Exactly what that combo has to do with the designer’s stated inspiration, Wallis Simpson and other chic Americans whose “grace, romance and effortless style…fascinated the English aristocracy during the 1930s,” is unclear. While those ladies may have needed a sturdy Mac and Wellies to brave the country muck, they didn’t exactly hit the moors looking like urban warriors bracing for the storm.
But no matter, Wang’s combination conjured the prettiest of tough girls, and it worked beautifully, to a point. Her toppers, all leather-framed and fox lined, delivered practicality with a slick, aggressive edge. Along with the dresses, so delicate of materials if not of color (they came in no-nonsense shades of grays, loden and mustard), the concept rang interesting indeed — this is a woman with something going on besides a great look. For evening, the girls lost the parkas but kept the pleats, in a series of magnificently worked gowns.
Look by look, the clothes impressed. But in a sea of look-alikes, even the most interesting girl on the block will see her powers of fascination wane. Thus, Wang’s single-minded brigade would have benefited from a small shot of diversity.