One of the challenges in taking over a storied house such as Balenciaga is that the label wants a creative director who will keep the collection fresh and contemporary while staying true to the original designer’s vision. Doing that, however, without totally upsetting the brand’s loyal followers is tricky, though, and while Alexander Wang seems to be settling in to the general Balenciaga aesthetic in his second season with the house, his individual style still came through and not everyone in the room was all that happy.
On one hand, Wang demonstrates with this collection that he truly knows how to be feminine, a Balenciaga trademark. Clean, A-line skirts, floral peplum, sharply tailored jackets, caped backs, and off-the-shoulder silhouettes were all on-point. Wang has done his homework and, I think to the surprise of some, this is not simply Wang 2.0. What he has brought to the label is a collection that is immensely wearable and certain to be popular at retail, which the brand desperately needs.
Strongest in this collection are Wang’s use of confetti fabrics and sheer. He uses the fabrics well to create looks that are more sturdy on top, where a garment can get a lot of abuse, and more flowing and pretty on the bottom, providing plenty of movement and seasonal beauty at the points where eyes naturally wander.
Yet, this was not enough to please the purists. “I never thought I’d see pastels on a Balenciaga dress,” said one woman near my own age.
“Too damn commercial,” said another. “He’s taken the heart out of it.”
Wang has definitely provided some of his sportier silhouettes to the collection, especially in some sweater/shorts ensembles that came along early in the collection. Cropped tops also were in heavy play here and Wang’s preference for very short skirts was quite apparent. Yes, there were pastels, primarily powder blue and dusty pink, but in his defense, Wang often applied to those a beautiful antique floral pattern that at times reminded me of a Burberry tea cup. The overall aesthetic was quite pleasing.
We know there’s no pleasing everyone, so it really isn’t surprising that Wang has his detractors. At the end of the day, this is a very beautiful, well constructed, feminine collection destined to do well once it hits stores this next spring. Go ahead and make room on your credit card now.