Here’s a fashion riddle: when is an earring not an earring?

The answer will come on Feb. 14, when Alexander Wang unveils a new collaboration for fall with Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Paris Kain of Abraxas Rex. The two teamed up for a small four-style collection of silver cuffs and earrings. The latter, Wang cryptically notes, are neither worn pierced nor clipped on. “We’re working with ways of wearing earrings that aren’t typical,” he says. “How they work on your body, how they hang. We want to push the meaning of embellishment and how people interpret jewelry.” Though he remains tight-lipped about the specifics, Wang says the overall vibe will be a fairly new one for him — sleek and streamlined.

This story first appeared in the February 5, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I wanted something very industrial,” he explains, while noting that his fall ’09 collection will also veer more constructed and tailored and less “throw-on slouchy.” “But also animalistic. [The inspiration] started with the idea of Tina Turner in ‘Mad Max.’” He’s referring, actually, to the third installment (1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”) of the sci-fi film series in which Turner plays a post-apocalyptic leader with a penchant for chain mail dresses and metal-coil accessories. Abraxas Rex for Alexander Wang, priced $350 to $975 wholesale, promises to be no less edgy.

Take, for instance, the bold silver cuff topped with a giant pyramid spike. “The shapes we’re working with could just as easily be from a thousand years from now or a thousand years ago,” says Kain of the futuristic-yet-primal feel. The jeweler, best known for his gobstopper quartz rings and meteorite pendants, also added tiny, barely perceptible diamonds to the designs. It’s a subtle trademark with which his Abraxas Rex clients are familiar. “It’s not a status symbol, but something for yourself,” notes Kain, who previously collaborated with Francisco Costa on jewelry for the Calvin Klein spring ’08 collection.

As for those earring styles, get your clues by studying Turner’s character in “Mad Max,” and her gargantuan donut-shaped baubles. “Alex definitely takes risks,” says Kain.

But they won’t be the only surprise on the runway. Although Wang canceled his post-show soiree, he promises to bring that party spirit to the runway event itself. And he’s not stopping with the Belvedere-sponsored open bar before the show. “This will probably be the most theatrical beginning we’ve ever done,” the designer says.


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