Vera Wang Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear Collection

View Gallery 28 Photos

Vera Wang was back on the runway today for the first time in two years. It’s the 30th anniversary of her business, a remarkable achievement.

Wang, of course, began as a maker of modern wedding gowns, but her brand isn’t just brides: Over the years she’s dressed a who’s who of Oscar winners and first ladies. “Designing for the red carpet, you’re more of an Edith Head [the famous mid-century costume designer],” she said, “because it’s not necessarily about your own personal philosophy.”

Wang’s design philosophy is certainly idiosyncratic. In her collections, she favors attenuated silhouettes—wispy layers accented by structured tailoring perched on extraordinarily high heels for an ambiance of romantic fragility. For spring, she made a study of lingerie elements used as accessories. “I was searching for a new formula for evening that I thought was more modern,” she said. Her explorations included hip-grazing chainmail slips featuring garter belts, sheer bra tops worn loose and unfastened over structured pieces, ruffled bustles, short shorts, and pelmet minis. It was deshabille in extremis.

In the middle of the show, you saw the silhouettes that made Wang’s career: long, vaguely Edwardian shapes that were indeed very romantic, like layered bias-cut slip dresses scooped out at the back so they sort of floated. But the complications of her improbably willowy silhouette proved overwhelming elsewhere, and two models took spills from their sky-high platforms. Wang has decades of experience balancing women’s real-life needs with the oftentimes frivolous details that glamour demands. Her runway should rise to the same standards.