The haunting preshow score was the first clue that Alexander Wang was gearing up for another thematic 180. Bye-bye, head-bopping club tracks as the cool kids roll in; hello, Bram Stoker-type instrumentals. And the first girl out was, indeed, as surprising as last season’s sports outing: Natalia Vodianova in crisp tailored pinstripes working a vaguely Gothic vibe, with black tails of chiffon streaming down her backpack.
The inspiration began, actually, with Wall Street businesswomen and what Wang took to be their counterpoint: freewheeling gypsies. “It’s about women who make money and women who steal money,” he said. Either way, his girls looked as interesting as their point of reference. The first half of the show focused on power-broker threads done in Wang’s topsy-turvy way, which resulted in traditional men’s wear garments sexily reconstructed to the hilt. He sliced apart waistcoats and jackets and inverted pants into shrugs; blazer details wound up on skirts. Lace-trimmed slipdresses, meanwhile, were cut from wool suiting. Things took a turn toward the complicated and tricky at times, but the beauty of his collection was its powerful layering motif — rendered here controlled and lean, not grunge-style circa Wang 2008. So pulled apart and in the showroom, there were plenty of terrific clothes for both his downtown tribe and uptown types. (We especially loved those wide-rib knits.)
By night, the designer turned Gothic romantic — here’s where the gypsy came in — with loads of velvet and lace, ornate bijoux by Gaia Repossi and a palette of dark merlots, emeralds and mustards (“Old Italian Renaissance colors,” Wang said). Out came vampy ruched frocks, cape dresses and macramé tops, as well as a handful of velvet smoking jackets and pants “pin-striped” with pearls — all pulsing with a tough-chic vibe. As for the gotta-have-it tacky factor inherent in Wang’s collections, this time he chose chenille, in the form of leggings and tiny bralettes.