Yuhan Wang RTW Spring 2024 – WWD

The London-based Chinese designer Yuhan Wang reimagined what a different fate Tess Durbeyfield would have had were she born in our time.

Wang believes that Thomas Hardy’s heroine from “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” would be able to escape the hands of men, embrace her sexuality, write her own destiny and even sail across the ocean to embark on a new life altogether.

The collection took cues from the garment details from late Victorian England but broke free from all the traditions. Lace undergarments became daywear, while sheer tops and sultry dresses were adorned with teddy bear motifs and hand-embroidered animals like cats, rabbits, and deer.

The strawberry — beaded on satin dresses, printed across knickers and skirts and 3D printed as necklaces — was an element taken directly from one of the most famous scenes from the 1979 film adaptation by Roman Polanski, where Durbeyfield went into “an abstracted half-hypnotized state” after the first strawberry was fed to her by men. Here, Wang thinks that the Tess of our time would pick the fruit with her own hand, as she is resilient and strong-minded.

“I feel sorry for women who try to adapt to the world around them in the past. I think women should be able to choose their own lives and be their own decision-makers. My Tess should go wild. She can run away from home in the countryside to go to the theater and even become a sailor,” Wang said backstage.

The nautical-inspired pieces also happened to be the highlight of the season as they added a sense of uniform and military discipline to balance the seductive core of the collection.

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