Sharon Wauchob Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear
“It just felt right not to be so heavy this season,” said Sharon Wauchob of her ethereal fall collection. At this point in her career, the Irish designer could be floating along on autopilot, but she’s producing some of her strongest work ever, paring things back so all that’s left is essential, poetic, and resolutely modern. The irony (if that’s the right word here) is that this modernity is achieved using age-old couture techniques. A beaded sequin skirt, shiny as caviar, was all worked by hand. And a lace storm cloud of a bra top was inspired by 19th century hairnets; Wauchob had the exact lace reproduced from a historical sample.
A “boudoir” theme started to gather steam in New York, but at Wauchob touches of lace and net are far from tawdry or retro, instead they are defined by airiness. Within this fall collection was a capsule of lingerie/pajama pieces, all beautifully constructed. A to-the-floor-skirt in tulle, Wauchob explained, was “cut on the circle, but with interlinking bias circles to get the shape.” It throws shadows of Vionnet, or the ’90s, depending on your perspective. The camis were cut on the bias and double layered. Cut short, they revealed a stretch of skin between the underbust and waist.
The idea of emergence was at play here, and, as always, motion, too. Fringe and feathers are alive materials that bounce and sway in ways that cannot be controlled. The designer let go in other ways for fall, introducing multi-purpose accessories like a silk-velvet hood and feathered sleeves (think of a large stole with arms) that could be layered over a traditional tuxedo jacket, say, to play with hard/soft, feminine/masculine contrasts. “Layering I felt was more interesting than overdesigning,” Wauchob said. Indeed.
The designer is looking towards creating a retail experience for her customers and she’s taken that as an invitation to stretch herself: “For me it’s a learning process to venture into new territory at this stage,” she noted. Clearly Wauchob was holding the image of a customer close as she made this collection. (The same goes for makers; she found local production for the pajama pants and tops of wafty, sustainable silk.) These clothes boast an expert hand and a human touch; in turn they invite tactile engagement—a dance between fabric and skin.