“A modern soul wearing ancient clothes” was how Uma Wang described Charles Baudelaire, the French poet and essayist who inspired her spring collection. Used to traveling to discover fodder for her creative process, the designer found herself pondering where this extended layover might take her, eventually alighting on the poet’s words in his seminal “The Flowers of Evil”: “a boudoir of landed roses/Where many an old outmoded dress reposes.”
Rather than a reflection on what old or new clothes might look like, the designer considered quotidian rituals. “[There] was the unexpected understanding that in our time, we are losing the importance of rituals, [those] that give value to what we are doing, like the daily ceremony of getting dressed, which gives garments their right importance,” she wrote in an e-mail exchange.
So while much of the lineup was straight out of her usual playbook — long, layered, worn and with elaborate arrangements of pleats, folds and tucks — the gestures that led to each silhouette were in sharper relief. Trailing panels offered versatility, obscuring or outlining the waist. Dresses arranged atop of each other looked unexpectedly regal, while a wide sepia suit in a floral jacquard went from lounge to louche with one thin ribbon belt. Captured in grainy imagery that looked like ancient found photography, the antithesis to Baudelaire’s view of modernity as a fleeting experience: a collection that old souls would find once novel and familiar.
Uma Wang RTW Spring 2021
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