While yesterday’s Alexander Wang show was held in a space across from that quintessential icon of New York City, the Wall Street Bull, the chatter inside was, predictably, focused on Paris, where the designer will be showing his first collection as creative director of Balenciaga in a few weeks time.
It has been a mere two months since the house confirmed Wang as the replacement for Nicolas Ghesquière, and the questions haven’t abated since. Will he be able to translate his downtown aesthetic for the hallowed runways of Paris? Will his marketing savvy transform the way we look at Balenciaga? Will he ever use a little bit of color? While the collection he showed yesterday evening for his eponymous label didn’t exactly answer any of these questions, that didn’t stop many (ourselves included) from drawing some conclusions from the looks we saw on the runway.
The anticipation was palpable the minute we walked in to the Cunard Building, the grand space down near the tip of Manhattan the designer chose this season in lieu of his usual Pier 94 venue, not least because of the thick fog obscuring our view of the high, mural-covered ceilings and scene-y front row. Once we got our bearings, however, we made out Terry Richardson and A$AP Rocky hunched over in conversation next to cool kids Zoë Kravitz, Natasha Lyonne, and Alison Mosshart, and, a few seats over from that, Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, who we’re fairly certain was sporting the Céline coat she wore so well on the cover of i-D.
The bright lights flashed on just as Rocky III‘s “Eye of the Tiger” theme began blaring, ushering the on to the runway the first model, clad in a gray, drop-waisted coat, knit cap, matching hood, and a pair of sensationally large fur gloves that reached nearly to the tops of her sleeves. Clearly, Wang is ready for a fight this season. The looks progressed as the models walked down the runway and up the stairs to the raised platform in the center of the hall, mostly in the monochrome shades he does so well, save for a few pieces in sleek cognac — the same shade used by hairdresser Guido Palau to create the ponytails that hung uniformly down the backs of each and every model. The cocoon-shaped backs of certain sweaters and jackets hinted at the time the designer has been spending in the Balenciaga archives, and the lush furs and artistically folded fabrics suggested Wang’s readiness to break into the luxury segment of the market.
Where last season was all about suspension (and, yes, glow-in-the-dark dresses), this time around the designer was focused on protection, which was evident not only through the boxing theme, but also in the collection’s fabrication: angora, leather, mohair, astrakhan, and knit after cozy knit — right down to the fleecy wedge mules. So while Wang will have to steel himself for the cuts and jabs of critics when he makes his Paris debut, at least we can take comfort in knowing he has some very luxurious gloves raised and ready to throw the knockout punch.
See looks from the collection in the gallery below:
this is some kind of spaceship or something.