BOSS F/W 2016
BOSS F/W 2016

I mentioned last week my concern that Jason Wu might be putting more creativity into the Hugo Boss line than his own. Certainly, having dual responsibilities at the two labels places incredible demands on his time and energy, so it makes sense that one would dominate over the other. For the second season in a row, though, what we see for BOSS, which is how the label is attempting to rebrand, is a stronger collection than Wu’s eponymous label.

From the outset, Wu gives creative strength to this label by using a vertical wave pattern to absolute perfection. With each portion of the wave being a different fabric, or color, or element, Jason creates looks that don’t have to be complicated to be appealing. May of the silhouettes themselves are actually rather simple and pull heavily from the BOSS catalog, but with the varying waves washing across the pieces, applique flowers are more dynamic, subtle changes in color tone become interesting, and dramatic contrasts in texture become elements of excitement.

Working a winter palette heavy on black and browns, Wu creates interest in his garment by creating an illusion of movement even when the garment is stationary. The designs are tasteful, nothing over-the-top or pretentious in any way. The styling itself is classic, with pleated skirts and well-tailored suits that communicate a station of power and authority. Variances in texture and touches such as a pink vertical peplum keep the pieces from feeling redundant from one to the other. Yet, there is a strong cohesion throughout the collection that defines it as BOSS.

Just before the show, someone asked me if Hugo Boss is still, “a thing.” Prior to Jason’s arrival at the brand, it had definitely suffered a bit both in terms of sales and PR; Hugo Boss was seen as a brand of a different era. Jason seems to have successfully turned that around with multiple seasons of very strong fashion. These clothes are exciting to watch, exciting to wear, and exciting to even own.

Yet, one might do well to ask at what price the success of BOSS has come? Can Jason maintain this maddening design schedule he’s on and still keep both brands viable? He certainly looked more energetic today than he did last week. Perhaps Jason Wu is America’s answer to Karl Lagerfeld. I like what he showed today and am hopeful he can keep up the pace. I’d hate to see another great young designer flame out.

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