Critics Love LOVE, Rucci, Split on Wu

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Jason Wu, Richard Chai, Ralph Rucci. Photo: Imaxtree

The early reviews are in, and the critics' reactions to the collections range from "superb" to "unfortunate." Jason Wu was panned by the New York Times' Cathy Horyn, while Richard Chai's LOVE collection was praised all around. Chado Ralph Rucci's detail work was lauded, a high point for editors it seemed. Find out what else the critics had to say.

Jason Wu

Jason's Wu's Irving Penn–inspired collection was a "bazaar of textures and patterns," filled with plaid parkas, sequined sheaths, and poufed and feathered evening wear. (It was all a bit too much for Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, who suggested that Wu eliminate "at least one fabric from his collection. Well, make that three.") The critics were split on the success of the show. Style.com thought the designer "seem[ed] to move even further from the princess dresses that were his first claim to fame," while WWD countered that the collection fell "squarely back in the pretty, polished fold, his bread-and-butter currency thus far." Most appreciated the masculine-tinged outerwear — particularly "charming" plaid parkas — and The Wall Street Journal declared his paint-splatter coats "iconic for the season." (Though it also cautioned that the safe, wearable collection would read as "old" to magazine editors.) But it was the evening-wear that left most divided. Though it praised a feathered tulle dress, Style.com concluded that "it didn't all work" and that some of the dresses lacked the "effervescent quality" of Wu's best work. WWD agreed that the looks were split: some "charming in their girlish awkwardness and others, just awkward." Horyn was unimpressed, calling the dresses "one of those weird runway surprises that make you look down at the floor, which unfortunately was covered in pink wall-to-wall."

Watch a slideshow of the Jason Wu collection.

Richard Chai LOVE

The critics praised a winning, smart second collection for Richard Chai's LOVE line. Most noted the "broody-quirky harnessing of nineties grunge," with fingerless gloves, layered tops, and slouchy cropped pants (though the designer himself was reluctant to use the "G" word). The Wall Street Journal found it to be a "practical, utilitarian and cozy" lineup — "looks a girl might borrow from her boyfriend’s closet." WWD gleefully welcomed the return of the maxi-skirt, declaring it a "refreshing" turnaround after many seasons of dangerously short hemlines. Fashion Week Daily admired the layered look, with heavy knits and menswear-inspired coats "balanced out at times by a flourish of metallic gold sequined pieces," and WWD agreed that the layering motif "kept things lively." (It also amounted to a smart business choice, as Style.com pointed out: "[T]his will amount to a mountain of merch, not a bad approach when you're looking to nurture a business.") In the end, all admired Chai's skillful execution in designing for the lower-priced LOVE line. "[I]t was easy to forget this was a contemporary collection," noted Style.com. "When suddenly you remembered, it was a happy moment indeed." The Wall Street Journal agreed, presenting the show as evidence that "being more commercial doesn’t mean being boring."

Watch a slideshow of the Richard Chai LOVE collection.

Chado Ralph Rucci

The critics lauded the exquisite detail of Rucci's fall collection, which was on full display in a more intimate showroom setting. The clothes "had the extra quality of performance," assessed Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, showcasing a "balance of contemporary design and superb craft." Most all swooned over the designer's touch with fur ("something to marvel at") and feathers ("not only placed by hand, but sorted one feather at a time"). "[I]t was apparent to all why Rucci is haute couture ... Fur is luxurious no matter what but [he] makes it art," declared Fashion Week Daily. The refined designs were befitting of his loyal, upscale clientele. WWD called the clothes "refreshingly urbane and a polished reflection of what a very accomplished woman wants to wear," and Fashion Week Daily predicted that they "are bound to end up on women like Hillary Clinton ... and Michelle Obama." Yet the critics also saw an intriguing, more youthful note in this show. "Rucci has had trouble connecting with the downtown crowd in the past," noted Style.com. "This show could go some way to correcting that."

Watch a slideshow of the Chado Ralph Rucci collection.