Alexander Wang said his approach to fall was about introducing a knitwear vocabulary to Balenciaga. “It’s something I felt was never very much present in the research that I was doing, and since I started in knitwear, I felt it was an appropriate starting point,” he explained during a preview.” Perhaps so, and within that framework, Wang proposed some interesting motifs. But more than anything else, the collection he showed on Wednesday morning felt steeped in archival concepts — less those of the house’s founder than its most recent former designer, Nicolas Ghesquière.
Here, the overall look and silhouette — strong, rounded shoulder; architectural arcs and folds; superslim pants, all delivered with a vaguely futuristic feeling heightened by details such as ample zippers — drew a fairly straight line back to the silhouette that became synonymous with Ghesquière’s Balenciaga, which itself drew from the founder’s sharp concepts of cut and construction. Many have mined Ghesquière, a great designer. But this collection indicated that Wang’s complete creative ownership of the label remains a work in progress, even if the two designers share a cool, street-aware sensibility. That said, the lineup looked good, with plenty to like and for women to buy, and Wang introduced numerous fresh ideas.
He worked his knitwear premise creatively, delivering it with casual panache and a soupçon of tough. “Almost every single look or piece has an element or a surface or a visual or a stitch related to knit,” he said.
He opened with impressive wool coats and jackets, big, horizontal scuba-inspired zippers making for aggressive decoration on their backs. Over each of these he put a beaver “apron scarf” with an attached kangaroo pocket knitted from shoelaces and rubber cording. Some coats came in a polyester jersey that aped cabled textures; others were knitted and fused to outer shells of latex or leather. Dresses were structured shifts, their graphic quotient intensified with bold zippered strips, a detail used on pants as well. Yes, in his focus on knits Wang showed actual sweaters, shaped for ease for the body yet with structure on top via deftly wrought yoke arcs that appeared separate but were in fact attached.
For evening, he took a novel approach, in keeping with his ascendant reputation as purveyor of all things cool. He tweaked the sweater motif, bejeweling the arc with lavish encrustations of pearls. He paired it with pants and a satin knot-front bodice to, Wang said, “kind of reference a ball gown.” A young witty twist all his own.