Alexander Wang's fall collection was terrific — we think. The clotheswere tough to see clearly since the set had less light than aneast-facing apartment at sundown. Would a little more wattage reallyhave killed the mood? No, but then, a dose of sartorial confusion wasjust the point. Wang continued the trompe l’oeil thread he started forpre-fall by taking, he said before the show, “a Surrealist approach tofabric manipulation. The idea is a distorted perception of things youmight think are raincoats but are actually laminated tweeds.”

The notion provided a grainy backdrop — installed with cubic mirrors — for Wang’s high-octane sportswear machine, now capable of developingfrom scratch 90 percent of the materials used in his collections, afactoid the designer proudly disclosed backstage. A multitude of stiff,shiny treatments shone well on the limited palette of white, black and abit of oxblood, while amping up the stylistic tension. Lacquered merinowool tweeds, waxed suedes and shrink wrapped-jacquard knits were workedinto graphic silhouettes, his most defined and daring yet, particularlywhen it came to outerwear. The first look was a boxy, white lacqueredtweed raincoat with a round helmet of a hood. Under it, a fishnetturtleneck was pulled up over the model’s mouth — there was a lot ofthat. In fact, the mood of chic aggression recalled, but didn’treplicate, early Nineties Helmut Lang. Yet while edge is in the atoms atWang, he slipped in a moment or two that nudged toward minimalistbourgeois, for example, a shiny, crewneck sweater worn with a long,straight leather skirt that wrapped in the front, creating a generousslit.

At the bottom of the show notes, which ended with look31, the instructive “Please stay seated...” was printed. Most peoplewere banking on some kind of live performance, but after the models tooktheir final walk, the lights changed and out came a more elite and(excuse the term) elder pack of models, including Shalom Harlow,Karolina Kurkova and Gisele Bündchen as the finale. The looks they worewere in the same vein as the previous 31 but with less shine, morerefinement and more tailoring, perhaps to signal Wang’s correctconviction that, hip as they are, his clothes do indeed have range.After a lap, each girl took her place facing one of the mirrors at closerange. Supermodels looking in the mirror...there’s probably a surrealmessage there.

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