Vera Wang has gone cowgirl. Few designers are more closely associated with New York, but on a Zoom call, Wang insisted she’s not unfamiliar with the American frontier. As an aspiring Olympian, she was a summer skater in Aspen and other points west. Her memories of family trips to those places, mixed with a fair bit of lockdown-time wanderlust and old-movie watching (Urban Cowboy, Val Kilmer in Tombstone), sparked her imagination. Her new collection is a mix of “saloon girl” dresses with puff sleeves, hip-high slits, spills of ruffles, and the occasional bare back and lace capes, bustiers, and peignoirs. Off-the-shoulder “sheriff” trenches provide a swaggering counterpoint.
Wang had a couple of star turns at the Met gala, dressing Emily Ratajkowski in red and the cochair and inaugural poet Amanda Gorman in blue. She herself wore a white cape. They made an on-theme, even patriotic, trio given the exhibition’s focus on the American fashion lexicon. Her new lineup is as vivid as those celebrities’ dresses, in shades of chartreuse, lime green, lilac, and turquoise. Wang’s preference for the color black is well established, so there was a novelty factor to her palette this season too.
A tank top was printed with the words “Not my first rodeo.” Wang has rounded the three-decade mark in business, but she’s keeping her eye on the way young people are dressing on the street. “I’ve noticed a trend toward people being more naked,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t think that’s quite where we’ll ever go—it’s not us. But I tried to bring a certain amount of sensuality.” Cue the collection’s many shorts, some flat fronted and others with blouson-like volumes, which she paired with sweeping capes, off-the-shoulder bandeaus, or bikini tops and blazers. Wang proved just how versatile shorts could be when she wore hers with that white cape and over-the-knee boots at the Met.