VIVIENNE TAM AW15’16 READY-TO-WEAR NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
Chinese-born designer Vivienne Tam is known for her East-meets-West aesthetic, and it feels particularly relevant right now with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass set to open this spring.
Tam’s Fall collection was inspired by chinoiserie—the European impression of China in the late 17th century—but she focused on bringing it into the modern age. “I love that time period, but I didn’t want it to feel too soft,” she explained backstage. “Mixing in leather and high-tech materials makes it more urban.” Tam has been experimenting with neoprene and mesh for a few seasons now, but she manages to avoid the cold, plasticky vibe so often associated with synthetics. On the shimmering fit-and-flare dress that closed the show, Tam paired tech mesh with a thick embroidered trim that mimicked baroque gilded Chippendale mirrors. It was so light bouncing down the runway that the fabrics didn’t feel artificial.
There were also touches of a Victorian influence in the high, ruffly necklines and drapey blouses. Tam wasn’t the first designer to play with that look this week. A completely see-through top with a jet-beaded choker neck even felt a little goth (another rising trend for Fall). The best pieces, though, were suited for evening, like the sheer chiffon gowns covered in embroidery or the weighty column encrusted in sequins.