The haunting preshow score was the first clue that Alexander Wang wasgearing up for another thematic 180. Bye-bye, head-bopping club tracksas the cool kids roll in; hello, Bram Stoker-type instrumentals. And thefirst girl out was, indeed, as surprising as last season’s sportsouting: Natalia Vodianova in crisp tailored pinstripes working a vaguelyGothic vibe, with black tails of chiffon streaming down her backpack.

The inspiration began, actually, with Wall Street businesswomen andwhat Wang took to be their counterpoint: freewheeling gypsies. “It’sabout women who make money and women who steal money,” he said. Eitherway, his girls looked as interesting as their point of reference. Thefirst half of the show focused on power-broker threads done in Wang’stopsy-turvy way, which resulted in traditional men’s wear garmentssexily reconstructed to the hilt. He sliced apart waistcoats and jacketsand inverted pants into shrugs; blazer details wound up on skirts.Lace-trimmed slipdresses, meanwhile, were cut from wool suiting. Thingstook a turn toward the complicated and tricky at times, but the beautyof his collection was its powerful layering motif — rendered herecontrolled and lean, not grunge-style circa Wang 2008. So pulled apartand in the showroom, there were plenty of terrific clothes for both hisdowntown tribe and uptown types. (We especially loved those wide-ribknits.)

By night, the designer turned Gothic romantic — here’swhere the gypsy came in — with loads of velvet and lace, ornate bijouxby Gaia Repossi and a palette of dark merlots, emeralds and mustards(“Old Italian Renaissance colors,” Wang said). Out came vampy ruchedfrocks, cape dresses and macramé tops, as well as a handful of velvetsmoking jackets and pants “pin-striped” with pearls — all pulsing with atough-chic vibe. As for the gotta-have-it tacky factor inherent inWang’s collections, this time he chose chenille, in the form of leggingsand tiny bralettes.

 

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