Vera Wang: Poetry in Doris Duke’s former mansion
Fashion, at least in the hands of a designer with real vision, can have a poetic moment. And it did on Tuesday morning in Manhattan, in a refined yet racy show by Vera Wang, presented in a storied mansion on Fifth Avenue.
The show was staged inside the James B. Duke House, one of the last extant great mansions of Millionaires’ Row, for a select band of editors and afficionados. Built for one of the founders of American Tobacco and designed in homage to an hôtel particulier in Bordeaux, the building’s blend of projecting central bay and pediment, channeled rustication and Attic balustrade, made it the ideal setting for these clothes.
Not that there was anything remotely classic about this Fall/Winter collection by Wang, which was about reinventing evening clothes for daytime, or even the bedroom.
Most looks were semi-sheer – whether ruched camisoles, chiffon halter-neck dresses, or featherweight floral bodysuits cut as columns. Everything with side straps, train details or ruffled trim.
Wang added a fair dosh of tough chic to the mix, with posh S&M harnesses, dog collars and chokers finishing black corset dresses that sprouted tulle or stretch bodysuits with varsity trim. The entire cast wafted over the bitter lemon carpet installed inside the stately home, which eventually became one of the homes of legendary heiress Doris Duke, often called “the world’s richest girl.” An individual who had affairs too numerous to mention, Doris knew more about the boudoir than most.
Backed up by a great soundtrack – an artful selection of classical violin, Anne-Sophie Mutter playing Schubert – the show made for a formidable statement of imaginative fashion.
“Night. Breaking down evening. Boudoir meets body,” Wang wrote in her program notes.
And it was a show that won prolonged applause for the designer, who took an extended tour of the mansion catwalk, Anna Wintour leading the applause.
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