NYFW: ALEXANDER WANG S/S 2016

Alexander Wang S/S 2016
Alexander Wang S/S 2016

There were pole dancers at the after party. Let that sink in a bit while we talk about the clothes.

Alexander Wang may be the most important young designer in the United States at this time. He celebrates his tenth anniversary this season and already his name and brand are every bit as strong and profitable as those who were around before he was born. His style is unmistakable, his reach is unfathomable, and his popularity has reached unimaginable proportions. Where does all this leave us? Wondering what he’s going to do next.

Wang made a couple of very smart moves with his late-starting show. One: he put the clothes up front and saved the spectacle for last, keeping the focus exactly where it needed to be: on the fashion. Two: he didn’t hold back and do a boring retrospective. Again, he saved that for the video at the end and didn’t put it on the runway. This shows Wang’s sense of focus. Sure, there was a kick-ass party afterward and for all I know there are still a few leftover admirers trying their drunken hand at pole dancing. None of that was even visible from the runway, though, and the clothes took center stage. Compare this to Ricardo Tisci’s Givenchy extravaganza, celebrating his ten years with that label. Of the two, it’s Wang’s clothes that you are more likely to remember come Spring.

Alexander Wang is known for being urban and using a lot of black and white. He doesn’t disappoint on either count this season, but shifts quite strongly to a 50% mid-tone grey to give himself a little maneuvering room. There were plenty of hoodies, plenty of mesh, skater shorts were in abundance, and so much street attitude one needed a shovel to handle it all. I was a little surprised by some of the denim touches, not that they didn’t look good, but the long denim skirt with a slit up the center seemed out of sync with the rest of the collection. That might be the only miss in the whole line, though. Fleece and cotton and leather mixed well with more high-tech fabrics that are almost certainly the future of Wang’s collection. We’ve seen him use the new fabrics before, but their presence, especially in the nearly ubiquitous mesh pieces, was stronger than ever.

Wang is another designer that is putting both menswear and womenswear in the same show. This works because we can see how one compliments the other. As corny as it sounds, couples could shop Alexander Wang together without worrying about losing their street cred, in theory at least. Not that there’s really his/hers matching between the two sets, but there is a cohesiveness to the look, especially that mesh

There is a tremendous amount of fringe in this collection. Perhaps this is Wang’s nod to the 70s throwback trend, along with the faux lace-up touches on a handful of jackets and pants. The look wasn’t so obviously 70s as to distract from the overall urban aesthetic, but for those paying close enough attention to actually care, the reference was present. There were a couple of pairs of men’s overalls in the collection as well, but don’t expect to be seeing those down on the farm, either.

Wang gets an 8.5 out of ten on our diversity scale. This was easily the most colorful runway casting we’ve seen yet and it’s nice knowing that this is typical for a Wang show. Perhaps there was a little more diversity this season than last, but most have been impressive for quite a while now.

After the runway presentation, the large wall facing the bleachers lit up with a video retrospective of Wang’s progress over the past ten years. There were moments when one looked at images of a very young 21-year-old Alexander (with short hair) and had to stifle the “Awwwww” reflex, but putting all the years together demonstrates just how forward-thinking the young man was from the very beginning. Again, though, this wasn’t over done or over produced. The speed with which the images flew buy was a little trippy and left me a little dizzy for a moment, but the presentation itself was appropriate for ten years. Let him match Betsey Johnson’s fifty years and then he can blow the top off.

We are almost certainly seeing the rise of a new dynasty in American fashion. I’m sure I won’t like everything he does, but you have to respect the creativity and daring of the young man who has so quickly created such a dominant brand, stripper poles and all.

More from charles i. letbetter

PFW: MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA S/S 2015

Psuedo-celebrities, who shall remain nameless, have brought a bit of cult-like status...
Read More