How wearable is ready-to-wear?
In the midst of NYFW, social media is overflowing with images from the ready-to-wear spring/summer shows, which got me wondering: just how wearable are these supposedly prêt-à-porter collections? Often these shows, intended to be sold in upscale department stores and be available to anyone willing to spend the money, rival their couture counterparts in detail and extravagance. The lines get blurred more often than not, and sometimes these shows leave me thinking, despite their beauty, “really?”. Perhaps it is hard to envision the collections on normal everyday people, rather than on the professional models hired to make the clothes look sophisticated and luxurious, but a lot of the time it really is the clothes that just look too fantastical to wear out and about if you have the misfortune -along with 99.9% of the population- of not being Karlie Kloss or Jourdan Dunn.
This season, though, a handful of designers have taken practicality on board, and subsequently their collections possess some semblance of wearability and are worthy of investment. Jason Wu, whose designs never cease to be a vision of cool elegance, had a few standout pieces when considering the practicality of the garments. For example, the various interpretations of shirt dresses and coats in attractive mossy green and moody-blue suedes were particularly appealing, as well as a certain leather-top dress with a striking front split in the skirt that screamed “effortless chic”. As the collection ascended into evening wear, Wu took into consideration the wearability yet again, and despite the liquid-like, iridescent fabrics, the wearability showed in easy, no-fuss cuts such as a clean-line tee and draped skirt. Wu’s ready-to-wear perfected the balance between a unique, sophisticated look and relevance to everyday life.
Brandon Sun is another designer who took ready-to-wear literally this season. His structured, figure-flattering designs were fitting for a range of occasions: whether it be a garden party, corporate luncheon or black tie event – Sun had it covered. The collection; whose jackets and dresses had simple, clean lines, featured a complementary colour palette that added a playful dimension overall. The cut of the designs, much like Wu’s, was what gave Sun’s collection the wearability it needed to appeal to a wider, more general audience. His pieces possessed a certain sense of just-threw-it-on effortlessness, as the emphasis on fit meant the pieces required no more than themselves to look good. Despite all this practicality, Sun did allow for some more avant-garde pieces, in particular the white, black and pink fur skirt and coat thrown in for good measure.
Although designers like Wu and Sun did take wearability into account, for others this season was quite conceptual. Alexander Wang, loved by one and all supermodels, straddled the line between pure creative expression and wearability, with his leather and neon interpretations of the tennis dress, but maintained some practicality with his tuxedo jackets and sports-lux aesthetic overall. The Row, the brainchild of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had quite an organic feeling this season, creating interesting draping from raw silks, but did not translate that well into every-day pieces.
Overall, I think designers are beginning to acknowledge the ready-to-wear title a lot more than in past seasons, which means good things for their brands when their garments go to the mass market. Watch this space.