When you cross modern day streetwear with the Chinese Art Deco period, you come to Vivienne Tam’s spring 2016 ready-to-wear collection. Tam established her brand by basing her designs on evening gowns that mixed modern fashion and her Chinese heritage. This spring, however, she opted to change her aesthetic. “Traveling between New York, Hong Kong, and Paris, I noticed people on the streets were very androgynous,” she began. “Girls were wearing men’s clothes, and men were wearing more feminine things.” To better define this newfound experimentation with androgyny, Tam cast male models in her show for the first time. She played around with the history of the fashion trend, dating back to the Chinese Art Deco period, when women first began to incorporate masculine style into their everyday lives.
Vivienne Tam featured her models with glowing, youthful appearances, with both men and women alike having long, sleek hair. By creating this nearly unisex appearance, it was a better showcase to let her new, casual approach shine on the runway. There was a definite laid back air to the entire collection, and each piece seemed to be a fresh idea, interlaced with history of her heritage and modern technology. This combination of ideas was shown in many little ways as the show progressed. Mesh that had the appearance of chainmail and Mahjong-inspired fabric were the most jarring uses of this inter-culture collaboration.
Some simple themes that were seen throughout the collection that act as a nod to her heritage were dragons and Chinese flowers. Displayed on various pieces, she allowed for the pieces to remain cohesive while adding them into the line. The best part about her line in its entirety was the way in which she married these ideas. She used the fun, fresh new patterns in the same garments as her more traditional ones, and it resulted in a beautiful symphony of culture and technology.
The show-stopping garment was well placed by Tam as the finale gown. Strips of Mahjong tiled fabric cascaded down the model’s legs and moved beautifully as she walked. The chainmail-esque mesh began at her neck, in a cut much like her shift dresses, and ended as a floor length gown. The cut of the bodice was unique to this pattern, and could not have been any more beautiful on the model. The dress hung on the model, giving her figure a boost, and this dress has placed itself as a serious contender for one of my favorite looks of Fashion Week thus far.
Vivienne Tam really tamed herself for this spring’s line, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have fun. Although androgyny was vital to her collection, she played with fun, flirty, feminine shapes. As with the Mahjong tiles, there were elements of fun in this collection, but it was still far restrained from Tam’s usual aesthetic. And if there’s one thing to be said about the designer herself, is that she also designs with herself in mind. When she graced the stage with her fun-loving smile and attitude, she was wearing one of her own runway designs (the short Mahjong tiled dress with white sleeve tips) and rocking it as well as the models during the show.
Photos courtesy of Vogue