Compared to what we saw in New York last February, this season has been rather subdued. We’ve not seen the over-the-top spectacle, the huge space transformation, nor the dramatic use of video. If anything, labels have taken a much more austere approach to their shows this season. So, when the lights dimmed and the pillars on the 54th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper began to move with images resembling walking through a forest, it was something special, and an aesthetic that creative director Jason Wu very much ties to this spring/summer collection. So much so, that if you’ve not yet seen Marco Brambilla’s introductory video for this collection, I strongly suggest that one hit the play button and do so now. Here, I’ll may it very easy for you.

Now that you have a good feel for where we are going, we can continue.

Is it terribly wrong of me that I actually like this collection better than the one Jason exhibited for his eponymous label? Granted, this collection is geared toward a younger woman in general, one that doesn’t necessarily have to worry about meeting heads of state over lunch or chairing a board meeting all afternoon. Yet, what I like about this line is that it just feels more comfortable, more accessible, while still maintaining a sense of freshness all the way through.

One of my favorite elements comes right at the front of the show as Jason utilizes a number of very narrow diagonal lines juxtaposed in contrasting colors to create a very beautiful and abstract representation of, you guessed it, a forest. Anyone else would have likely settled for a graphic print of a bunch of trees, but Jason takes the concept to a much higher level by actually building the art into the garment.

Worth noting is the fact that at no time does this collection get too casual. While there are a few very well tailored pants suits scattered throughout the set, the majority focuses on blouse and skirt separates and dresses. Silhouettes are lean and long, like the long, tall pines deep in the forest, but they’re not so tight as to be confining or restrictive. Women actually have a little room to move and it is quite lovely how much more comfortable the models seemed to be walking in this show than in Jason’s own.

A few elements do carry over, but I think that is more because they are strong trends for the season. We see a lot of sheer skirt overlaying shorter pieces beneath. This rather allows Wu to play both sides of the hem length question. The sheer pieces are generally longer, down to mid-calf or so, while the hem line underneath stops about mid-thigh. While this is certainly not a new element, Jason plays it very well into the looks for this collection.

It is also worth noting that there are a number of strapless dresses in this collection. While lovely, they can present some fitting problems for some body types. Yet, there is one particular strapless dress that is especially lovely as Wu uses a mosaic print on the front in such a way as to resemble the bark of a tree in a most beautiful and creative manner.

Okay, so these probably aren’t the clothes one would choose for the normal hike through the woods. What Jason Wu does with this Hugo Boss collection is some of his most beautiful and most wearable work today. I certainly hope this is a trend he continues pursuing.

Photo credit: Gio Staiano

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