Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall '13: Vivienne Tam's Pop Art Persuasion

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Summary: For Fall ’13, Vivienne Tam explored the current cultural dialogue, peppering her collection with Pop Art elements that gave a nod to the rich history of designers, like Yves Saint Laurent, who have employed art in fashion design to make a political and cultural statement. President Obama and Mao were key players in this collection, particularly in the repetition of a black, white and red print featuring a crowd of Obamas, and a series of jackets inspired by Mao, as well as prints of his writing. Shown on the Chinese New Year, Tam noted that this is a collection “inspired by the conceptual underpinnings of the punk movement; questioning the status quo an celebrating individuality but also uniting in our cultural identities, embracing paradox and life’s essence: yin and yang.”

This is most interesting when Tam dives unabashedly into the concept, embracing the true spirit of Pop Art. The lines of a Mondrian-inspired dress curve, reflecting of the arc of Chinese characters. The repeated Obama print features a QR code, a comment perhaps on the relationship between the imbalance of human connection vs. technological accessibility. Asymmetry is a theme throughout, including a series of single-sleeved dresses with beautiful, structured shoulders. Tam noted that this is an unpretentious collection, and I agree, maybe even to the point of playing it too safe. There isn’t a garment here that isn’t beautifully made, and the militaristic nature of the clothing is poignant even in the more simpler pieces. But I would have to liked to have seen her expand on the Pop Art principles that served as her inspiration and to take the looks further. The current culture is one rife with opportunities for commentary and visual exploration. I appreciate what Tam had to say, I just wish she would have shared more.

Colors: Black, cream, white, orange, charcoal, army green, mushroom green, camel, dark navy.
Fabrics and Textures: Leather, Pop Culture Obama print, silk cotton faille, wool, pleating, jersey, wool crepe, applique, poplin, plaid, quilting, mesh, twill, houndstooth, fox fur, taffeta, felt, lace, sequins.
Key Looks: Mao black leather sleeve jacket with POP CULTURE OBAMA print in silk/cotton faille. Black wool melton pleated skirt and cream jersey turtleneck shell; “Wan Sui” (long live) shiny sequin lace dress and navy felt long coat. Black jersey turtleneck dress; Black silk/cotton faille sleeveless long gown with POP CULTURE OBAMA applique.
– Amanda Aldinger
Photos: NYMag

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