Jason Wu 2013 spring collection

By Silvia Yen

“It’s two completely different styles,” Jason Wu said at the backstage of his Spring 2013 show, which was influenced by photographers Helmut Newton and Lillian Bassman. Provocation isn’t traditionally part of Wu’s arsenal but this time Wu combined a few unusual elements to create a new Jason Wu collection.

Wu was inspired by the “erotically charged” images of Helmut Newton and the “dream-like” photos of Lillian Bassman: Helmut Newton’s amazons were sleekly groomed and faultlessly dressed, and Lillian Bassman’s impeccably elegant mannequins were the acme of romanticism—especially after her signature darkroom manipulations that shrouded her photographic prints in misty and shimmering light and shadow effects. These techniques were shown in a subtle white-on-black flower print, and in the spangled starlight galaxy embroideries. The result of this magical combo is “lady-like meets bad-gal.”

Seeing the contrast between sensuality and innocence this season, the result was just as naughty as it was nice but never tacky. Wu played with the time-honored conceit of underwear as outerwear, with corset-seamed dresses, and structured undergarments with a mid-century flavor revealed through diaphanous outer layers. Wu’s delicate, filmy transparent dresses were topped with tasteful leather harnesses, lots of exposed corset seams, and the most perfect shrunken leather jackets. The palette was fairly muted, with lots of cream and white, perked up by a few pops of bright coral midway through the show.

As usual, Wu’s eveningwear is stunning and fancy. A striking short evening dress was a swathe of biscuit jersey cleverly draped over a black leather girdle, and harnessed with fine leather straps played up the hard/soft dynamic—and those halters even suspended the skirts of Wu’s finale gowns, made from acres of drifting chiffon or tulle that barely veiled the shapely legs beneath.

Because one of Wu’s inspirations was Helmut Newton, makeup artist Diane Kendal (for MAC) gave the girls strong, straight brows and dark red lips. Eyes had a dusting of gold and the overall look had every beauty editor backstage swooning. Hair stylist Odile Gilbert (for Kerastase) came up with a pretty complicated African braid wave combo for the hair. Braid was tucked under in back, and the super slick wave on one side added an unexpected element. Dark navy nails came courtesy of OPIs’s “Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees.”

Wu explained, “I wanted to make a collection that sort of balanced, just teetered on that line, of sexy but still sophisticated.” Once again, Wu caught all’s eyes by playing up the hard + soft dynamic!