These are the kind of clothes Amal Clooney and Angelina Jolie would wear.
That's what was going through my mind as I was sitting at the Jason Wu fall runway show Friday afternoon, which was full of long lean coats, sexy shift dresses and skirts that fell to mid-calf. This was sober, serious fashion -- the kind you'd wear to address the U.N. -- except for the leg slit action, not that Jolie and Clooney don't know from leg slits.
"Strength and seduction," Wu said backstage, explaining how his "triple threat clothes" can go from day to night, office to dinner, and one season to the next. Fur trim that comes off, coats that transform into vests, things that are easy to put on (and take off), because all the fastenings are magnets, not buttons, he said.
There was a good deal of sex appeal, too, from the sleeveless olive green double face cashmere dress, slit to the thigh, to the gray short sleeve dress with a barely noticeable back cut out, to the opaque-and-sheer black lace cocktail frock that wasn't too sweet. "The Jason Wu woman is who you want to date, marry and build an empire with," one of my Twitter followers remarked. A ringing endorsement if I ever heard one. In this collection, Wu found the balance.
The classic shapes and absence of adornment got me wondering if we are poised for a throwback to 1990s power dressing.
That's certainly where we were at the Wes Gordon show. "I think I pulled every photograph that was ever taken of her," the designer said of his muse, the late Carolyn Bessette.
It's true that there was something so modern about Bessette's style, and freeing about how she had a minimalist uniform -- that one great, classic coat, a pair of perfectly-cut black trousers, and a slip dress for evening, her hair always pulled back in an untidy bun. It was the antithesis of today's outfit-a-minute, dressing-for-Instagram-like mentality.
And Gordon was channeling it all with a great-looking gray ribbed knit sweater dress, a slim black double face coat and pencil skirt, a floral lace maxi skirt worn with a simple turtleneck, a T-shirt, elevated with spidery crystal embroidery, and tucked into flared denim pants, and satin slip dresses in moody florals, or trimmed with Swarovski crystals, that should play well with the starlet set. Everything was worn with combat boots, the ultimate anti-fashion fashion statement.
Monique Lhuillier has typically appealed to the starlet set with her couture-like gowns, which are a mainstay on the red carpet. But for fall, it was all about fluidity. "She's liberated," the designer said of her muse. "No corsets, no volume."
More sensual than sweet, the clothes were a 1920s/1970s mix, with just as many pieces that would work for a night at Giorgio's as for an awards show.
Lhuillier also showed more of her own shoes, and for the first time, minaudiere bags.
It was a beautiful departure, with languid, draped satin gowns or trapeze dresses in jewel tones (one came with chiffon star print illusion sleeves), and sparkly mini dresses or cigarette pants topped with structured blazers.
The mood felt looser, lighter and more about wardrobe than just occasion dressing. Liberated, indeed.