Alexander Wang gave sparkling accessories a whole new dimension at 4 Times Square. Did we see this season’s ubiquitous sci-fi eye? Check. But this time it was the lenses that came crystallized. Tights, shoes, gloves and sporty clutches also arrived dipped in crystals—a necessary luxury when the palette is mostly monochrome, with just occasional bursts of neon pink. Wang’s refrain was clearly corporate, but this was power dressing from the athleisure end of the industry, electrified with a little Swarovski know-how.
Over at Spring Studios, Jason Wu sent a symphony of sparkling texture down the runway. Hand-pleated and ruched crêpe-de-chine (note: ruching is huge this season) bore clusters of crystals assembled like hanging fruit. To increase the textural luxe, crystals also hid among the irregular folds of satin dresses and satin-finished, double-faced wool coats. Silhouette inspiration came from the angular lines used by Sixties product designer Ettore Sottsass, creator of Olivetti’s iconic Valentine typewriter. Jewelry from Wu’s Atelier Swarovski Spring/Summer 2018 Mosaic collection, together with the Prisma collection it inspired, provided the finishing touches. (Look out for Mosaic and Prisma in stores.)
Have we spotted a theme? Glittering accessories also ruled the runway at Jazz at Lincoln Center on February 11, when Brandon Maxwell drenched bags, brooches, bangles and earrings in 146,000 Swarovski crystals. Why such extravagance? “The garment design and concept is intentionally simple, so it needed accessories to give context,” says Maxwell. We couldn’t agree more. It’s the first season that his jewelry has been designed entirely in-house, and the two main motifs were stylish knots and pineapples with crystals to make them fizz with energy.
In the era of fake news, Gabriela Hearst’s newsprint-inspired look was a noteworthy moment at Café Altro Paradiso. As an homage to her husband’s family history in journalism, she showed a silk twill and chiffon dress in a print based on Hearst newspapers and roses embroidered with crystals in shades of red. Elsewhere, she demonstrated her renowned gift for wearable luxury with cashmere, wool and silk cut into silhouettes that owed their unassuming chic to Victorian-era working women. In total, 32,000 crystals were strewn over her sumptuous garments. Hearst also gave us a chance to join another handbag waiting list—this time offering five gorgeous new styles.
“Someone left the cake out in the rain.” So went “MacArthur Park,” Richard Harris’s song that inspired Rosie Assoulin. Cue a wonderful concoction of crystallized ribbons in a rainbow of red, pink, yellow, blue and green icing a voluminous full-length gown. Other standout pieces sent down the runway at Spring Studios gave floaty fabrics texture via embroidered dashes and crosses in red, black and clear crystal beads. It’s no surprise to find out that she used a staggering 124,000 crystals to get these breathtaking effects.
Among all the seasoned designers, a new name emerged this year: Snow Xue Gao. The Swarovski and Vogue Talents New Generation 2017 competition winner filled Jing Fong, the city’s biggest Chinese restaurant, with her dazzling take on East meets West. While global fusion isn’t new, in Gao’s subversive hands it found something exciting to say. Cue sharp city suiting skewed with traditional qipao pajamas in a male-meets-female gender clash. Highlighting the plaids and florals were Crystal Fine Mesh, as well as thousands of crystal beads. A checked blazer edged with large Swarovski Crystal Pearls and a thigh-slit maxi-dress in rose adorned with crystal pendants won special attention. We’ll be watching her.
Runway Images Alexander Wang, Brandon Maxwell and Jason Wu: Dan Lecca
Backstage Images Alexander Wang, Brandon Maxwell and Jason Wu, Rosie Assoulin, Gabriella Hearst: Jason Lloyd Evans
Presentation Images Snow Xue Gao: Gong Cheng
Backstage Images Snow Xue Gao: Cheng Zhao