If Daphne Bridgerton were a 21st-century duchess, Jason Wu would most certainly be her modiste of choice. The designer, who launched his career dressing Michelle Obama for the Inaugural Ball (twice!), knows a thing or two about glamorous affairs and is exactly who a debutante-turned-royal needs on speed-dial. (Madame Delacroix who?) The pleasure of following someone as gifted and prolific as Wu is like bingeing on season after season of a Netflix Top 10: recurring themes, favorite characters brought back to life, a familiarity that breeds comfort rather than contempt.
Wu’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection, titled “Reverie,” was about going back to his roots. Heaps of greenery and blossoms decorated the runway as florals, of the Monet-at-Giverny variety, dominated the collection. They were scattered over garden-party frocks or splashed onto a simple tee. While Wu has dabbled in florals for previous collections, these felt less studied and more libertine… wildflowers picked in a meadow instead of cultivated, hothouse dahlias. Appliqués that looked like mafaldine pasta on sheer silk were floral-adjacent for those who prefer their blooms in a vase.
Wu recently told Grazia how the pandemic taught him “how to do more with less,” as well as find inspiration in new, and sometimes unlikely, sources. Natural dye artisan Cara Marie Piazza was one of them. Wu found her on Instagram and Piazza’s textiles, dyed naturally with botanicals and other non-toxic materials, were dreamy on Wu’s ball-ready dresses and languidly tailored separates. Hand washing gave fabrics like silk habotai, memory cotton and performance taffeta an intimate ease. Not having to worry about crinkling a gown — since it’s part of the design — is as wearable as it gets.
What Wu has consistently done best is showcase femininity. This season, he reworked several of his preferred silhouettes. There were shimmery slip dresses, babydoll shapes, the aforementioned duchess gowns with dramatic off-the-shoulder sleeves as well as short suitings that were almost practical. It’s a reminder that Wu has a fanbase that spans generations, from First Ladies to starlets like Madelaine Petsch and Lucy Hale, who were front and center at his show. You may have already lived through — and sworn off — bubble skirts in the aughties (yes, there were a few in Wu’s collection), but your 20-something niece hasn’t. Besides, there’s a minimal slip dress in a soft, neutral knit that’s speaking to you…
When asked what his goal was as a designer, Wu said, “To make everyone woman feel like the best version of themselves.” Achievement unlocked with this simply pretty and not-just-for-royals collection.