Having earned an Ecco Domani Fashion Fund award and been named a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, Vietnam-born Wayne Lee has been an editorial favorite for several years now. I found it telling that although her evening show nearly overlapped with Proenza Schouler’s, Barneys Fashion Director Amanda Brooks, Marie Claire’s Zanna Roberts Rassi, and a number of other masthead toppers turned up to see Wayne’s collection.
On the runway, it was a thoroughly black and white affair. The designer sent out a number of snowy looks to start things off, from silk tuxedo dresses to wispy leather vests to incredibly soft-looking lambskin bike shorts. I particularly loved a round-shouldered cape blazer in ivory viscose twill, dubbed a “falcon cape” in the run of show. Turns out Wayne had been inspired by the lightness and grace of birds of prey, and she beautifully captured the slope and quiet power of wings in those vest dresses and cutaway tanks. After several looks featuring a lovely blue-and-white “rope snake” print that seemed almost nautical, it was over to the other end of the color spectrum. Out came a slew of noir looks, some of which were simply dark counterparts of the pieces we’d seen earlier in the show. A cool black bomber jacket caught my eye, if only because it was one of the only non-draped pieces on the runway, and the side-slung “apron belts” on many a model added a dash of masculine-feminine quirk. Every look was heavily layered, but with fabrics this delicate and light, the final product appeared effortless. And it was clear to me that the individual pieces within each ensemble–say, a silk slipdress or an asymmetrical top–would look just as sharp worn on its own. By the time Wayne sent out her closing looks, which featured an optical-illusion pattern in black and white, I was sold. For a collection so limited in tones, these clothes were anything but ordinary. And while this monochromatic territory may have been mined by many designers before, Wayne’s more contemporary price points mean we may actually have a chance at calling these clothes our own.
**All images: Courtesy Wayne