Vivienne Tam Spring 2015: Inconsistency in texture & pattern

Vivienne Tam’s latest collection at Lincoln Center was, according to the program notes, “inspired by the decorative treasures of the Ming and Qing dynasties…housed in the Forbidden Palace.” Overall, it was no doubt a display of strong craftsmanship, but it would have been a more powerful offering if there was greater cohesiveness within the play on texture and pattern.

One motif was the use of net-like texture – inspired by delicate boxes and cricket cages – against heavier fabric such as cotton. In a piece constructed with white mesh, and featuring blue and white wave porcelain cut out appliqué, this textual play added a layer of sophistication to the otherwise simple design.

Tam added another dimension by playing with patterns. The oriental print mimicked hua-niao (bird-and-flower) and shan-shui (mountain-water) paintings: two of the most traditional categories of Chinese painting that use relatively light colors. Yet in Tam’s versions, the traditional patterns were re-colored with amped up hues such as cobalt blues, intense greens and super saturated corals. The organic prints were also placed against clean modern stripes, and cuts in forms such as A-line shift dresses and mini-skirts, creating an anachronistic feel.

However, with such diversity, sometimes the resulting look is interesting, but other times it comes across as busy. So much attention was placed on the clash of textures and patterns in one outfit – an embroidered black mesh top over a knit dip dyed top paired with black striped men’s court shorts – that the overarching story seemed lost.

Photos: Vivienne Tam Spring 2015 – New York Fashion Week
all photos courtesy of Getty Images