He’s young and he’s American: two things that Alexander Wang had fighting against him after being anointed the new creative director of Balenciaga. Wang was appointed to this role in December, after popular designer Nicolas Ghesquière, announced he would be leaving last fall. When news spread about Wang’s newest position, not all of the reactions around the European fashion world were positive.
Simon Collins, the dean of fashion at Parsons the New School for Design, said that he’d heard from friends in the Paris fashion industry that many were furious about the decision.
“They were crying in the streets,” Collins said. “They think Americans can’t design in the first place.”
Wang, 29, has not been one to build his business through “high-minded design.” He has, on the contrary, made his name through contemporary clothing designs that are marketable to a wide audience. Therefore, when editors and retailers arrived to see Wang’s first collection for Balenciaga, there was a “quiet expectation” that filled the atmosphere.
Wang has only had a limited amount of time to work on this debut collection, so it was described as a “prelude.” The pressure was definitely building, but Wang, to the surprise of many, seemed to nail it with the attendees. Those who didn’t believe an American designer of commercial sportswear could capture the feel of Balenciaga had a change of heart.
The collection was described as “the perfect balance between edge and elegance” by Ken Downing, the fashion director of Neiman Marcus. Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, was also very pleased with the outcome.
“I’m very proud,” Wintour said. “I thought everything was very wearing, with obviously lots of bows to Balenciaga himself.”
The versatility that many didn’t think Wang was capable of displaying in this collection was seen. He was able to reach beyond what he was used to as a New York designer and make a collection of high fashion elegance that was linked to the heritage of Balenciaga. Daniela Agnelli, the fashion director of London’s Telegraph Magazine shared these feelings.
“If I had closed my eyes,” she said, “I would not have known it was Alexander Wang designing. There was a lot of pressure for him. I was surprised to see such an amazing elegance and such a chic collection.”
– Jamie Wilson
Source and Image: NYTimes