Chasing cool is exhausting. Chasing it to Bushwick on Saturday night for Alexander Wang’s spring show was a fool’s errand. When Wang pulled up in a party bus on a dead-end street an hour late at 10:30 p.m. and did his signature sprint down the runway after, his high-energy glow was in stark contrast to the low that had dispersed through the crowd over the course of the hour spent being corralled behind metal police barricades waiting for #Wangfest to begin.
During a postshow interview in a movie set trailer that smelled of vomit, he seemed oblivious. “Before I answer anything, you’re going to go to Wangfest, right?” Wang asked. “You’re not going to leave right after this, right?” Somewhere along the way, Wang’s obsession with cultivating a brand image of partying has trumped his interest in design. The collection shown Saturday night was such a side note to the unwieldy, confusing event, it’s barely worth discussing. Kaia Gerber as the show opener was the big reveal. She’s a cute 16-year-old. There were tweaks on street wardrobe staples — shirts, jeans, utility — and some of the models wore tiaras that said things like “After After Party,” “Secret Location” and “Wangover.” The 32 looks whizzed by in less than five minutes. Does that even count as a fashion show?
Wang called the lineup “focused.” It likely had to be condensed for logistics. Before the bus carrying the designer and models arrived in Bushwick, it made two pit stops for surprise street fashion shows on Lafayette Street and Astor Place in Manhattan. The times and locations of those shows were revealed to 100 fans who had lined up outside Wang’s SoHo store that morning and spread the word to friends and fellow fans. Wang said he wanted to democratize the experience. A viral marketing moment was also probably on the wish list: The whole bus ride was live-streamed through Wang’s digital channels.
The idea of surprise pop-up street fashion shows has merit. He could very well have tuned into the kids/fans/clients/public with a word-on-the-street moment. But the disconnect back in Bushwick was very real. As a professionally obligated attendee, being penned in by security on a sidewalk all night to see a five-minute fashion show, and then being commanded to party, felt like a big middle finger up.
Asked who #Wangfest was for, he said, “It was very important when we started talking about this concept that we think about the editors and buyers and had a location they could be invited to, so that they could be part of the experience….But with the pop-up shows, it was about people that might have just been in the area. Maybe they weren’t expecting to be part of a fashion show, maybe it was people who have been following the brand and do their crazy research to find out that we would be there. It was just to be very inclusive.”
Whether inclusive, exclusive, shown in Brooklyn, Manhattan or East Jabip, fundamentally a fashion show has to be about clothes. Make them good, and then it can be party time.