Photography: Kathleen O’Neill
Snow Xue Gao was one of our favorites at last year‘s VFILES presentation, with her structured suits and descontructed blazers. This year, and without the help of VFILES, the designer stuck with heavily tailored pieces, juxtaposed with silk fabrics and floral prints—and the whole thing just felt like déjà vu. That doesn’t mean the collection wasn’t good—it was, and Gao has an impeccable understanding of the female body, and the ways in which to enhance and hide its curves. But it just felt repetitive—like a continuation of last season, or a career retrospective done way too soon. Instead of doing something like Kim Shui, who focused on her strengths while also driving her designs in a new direction, Gao’s collection felt stuck. Maybe it was just post-VFILES jitters, or the pressure of creating a sophomore range after having had success with her first—but Gao didn’t push herself, and the result was just a slightly different version of her debut, and without the things that made it work the first time.
Of course, the collection did have its moments. The gold jewelry, for one, was really cool and I wanted all of it. Gao also branched into actual menswear, bringing her sharp tailoring into basically a perfect set of suits. But no one really goes to Fashion Week to see stuff they could wear right off the runway—despite all this “See Now, Buy Now” bullshit that’s been cropping up over the last two years. That’s probably why the collection felt so dull—it was unimaginative, but still wearable, which just made it feel like Gao could’ve done better. In fact, I know she can, because she did last year.
But don’t take my word for it. View the collection, above.