Vera Wang Delivers a ‘Bounty of Beauty’; Rodarte Impresses and Depresses

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Vera Wang, Rodarte, and Thakoon. Photo: Imaxtree

We're in the home stretch! The critics still have plenty of love to give, but not for those who don't earn it ...

Vera Wang
The critics were uniformly wowed by Vera Wang's artful, luxurious collection. She toughened up her trademark romanticism a bit to achieve an "exquisite balance" between sophistication and edginess, declared WWD, deeming it an "interesting, yet beautifully unfussy" showing. "The clothes had a lovely modern civility," assessed Cathy Horyn of the Times, and Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune agreed that the show "played beautifully in a minor key." A critic from British Vogue was actually moved to tears by the display, which she lauded as a "bounty of beauty." Several reviewers swooned over the "delicious" accessories: beaded bibs, jeweled boleros, and sparkling webbed necklaces. "Wang's genius is in keeping her embellishments ... tempered with dark colors and slightly masculine shapes," asserted Fashion Week Daily. Indeed, the combined effect hit just the right note, concluded Renata Espinosa of Fashion Wire Daily, melding "the romance of an epic love poem [and] the eccentric horror of Poe."

Watch a slideshow of the Vera Wang collection.

Rodarte
Rodarte's draped, mutilated, and burned spring collection impressed the critics, though a few left wishing the Mulleavy sisters would lose the horror-movie motif and lighten up a bit. Although the plaid swags and matted hair reminded Cathy Horyn of Braveheart, she felt the duo "refined their point of view." It was a common sentiment: Fashion Week Daily deemed the collection "their most accomplished yet," Style.com called it the "most fully realized," and Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily felt it showed "all the technical virtuosity of French haute couture." The chief concern was how the clothes would translate off the catwalk. Robin Givhan of the Washington Post called the collection "indulgent and depressing," boldly asserting that "The designers of Rodarte could use a few constraints. They could use an austerity plan. They need clarity. They need less of everything." More kindly, Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune wondered if the duo could "tame their intense vision" enough to appeal to real women with their upcoming Target line. Though "gorgeous," WWD found the collection to be repetitive, concluding, "it would be nice to see them come back into the light and bring a few more approachable looks with them."

Watch a slideshow of the Rodarte collection.

Thakoon
The critics agreed that Thakoon's flower-decked spring collection failed to reach the heights of his previous showings. Several reviewers saw marked similarities to Nicolas Ghesquière's spring 2003 collection for Balenciaga; Eric Wilson of the New York Times deemed Thakoon's effort "derivative." "Some of [the looks] felt a little bit like sequels," ventured Style.com, but they did spot some crowd-pleasing dresses in the mix. Although it was less feminine than previous collections, "his evolution was interesting," noted Fashion Week Daily. Many grappled with a series of shield-print dresses, which Style.com felt "looked a bit, well, stiff." (The shield itself "looked kind of like a fertility doll. Or a lobster. Or maybe a guitar?" waffled Wilson.) British Vogue liked it best, asserting that the mash-up of clashing florals and body-conscious pieces gave the collection "a more modern, and less mumsy, appeal." But in the end, most tentatively agreed with WWD's conclusion: "[S]pring didn’t quite come together like his witty knockout collections of late."

Watch a slideshow of the Thakoon collection.