Sometimes, you’ve got a fashion collection that is pure poetry. Uma Wang‘s spring-summer 2023 is one of these rare examples. Her line-up is an ode to nature – but not in a cliché way. The neutral palette conjured the serene eternity of desert sands; coffee dye gave an earthiness to some of the materials. The second look was created from one length of a metal and cotton fabric that resembles tree bark. Sheer nylon was used, said Wang, to evoke “a white cloud in the sky.” Just as Wang harnessed different natural elements – sky and earth, for example – so she combined menswear touches with soft draping, flou, and structure. This collection read as mature as opposed to trendy because of the clarity of Wang’s vision, which is largely derived from her passion for materials. The designer works closely with Italian mills creating incredible, often textural fabrics, which help to inform the silhouettes. In general, Wang’s stories are like collages of different stories that somehow make sense when connected. For spring, Wang borrowed from the world of interiors a frayed cotton meant to evoke a woman wearing something she found at an antiques market. There was an ’80s boldness to menswear-inspired coats, jackets, and sleeves, for example. The square-toe shoes were inspired by those worn during the Ming Dynasty. The styling of the necklaces and hats tripped up a narrative that otherwise felt like a true fusion of elements relating to culture, history, and gender forged into something new. In her show notes, Wang wrote of nature existing beyond boundary and taboo; she associates wilderness with freedom. The humility one feels in the face of the natural world finds a parallel in the designer’s respect for textiles and craft, but otherwise this collection, which showcased Wang’s formidable talents, celebrated the power of a woman, giving her the option to stand strong, proud, free with the sturdiness of a tree or the gentleness of a cloud.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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