It’s shaping up to be the season of the 10-year-anniversary show in New York, with Alexander Wang among the clique of designers — Riccardo Tisci and Phillip Lim join him — reflecting on a decade in business. Wang didn’t want to rehash the past, not overtly, but asked himself what’s fresh and new. He answered with a collection of cool, dynamic, thoughtful clothes that felt especially relevant and real, and ultimately revealed the wisdom Wang has earned over his lightning rod career.
Designers feel the constant impulse and pressure to innovate, whether through fabric development or tech, and Wang has always enthusiastically engaged and experimented on that front. “Sometimes I feel like the innovation moves faster than what we’re prepared to absorb,” he said before the show. “Maybe the idea of the mundane and the rejection of innovation is what feels modern.” Mundanity as a fashion concept and mundane clothes are two different things. Wang drew on the everyday garb of the women — and men, for the first time on his runway — that surround him, but the collection was not ordinary.
Jeans, Army jackets, track pants, sweatshirts and T-shirts were enhanced and elevated to suit Wang’s particular style tribe. Under its umbrella of street, sex, grit and sport, he expressed a breadth of individualism. The opening look of a white cropped ribbed tank with chain link straps worn with hip-slung trousers made of strips of men’s tailoring fabrics epitomized tomboy confidence and allure. An oversize khaki trench over a silk and lace slipdress captured brooding intellectual romance. A fierce fringed black leather biker bustier and white frayed denim maxiskirt displayed a carefree, wild-child attitude. Though casual and accessible, everything was intensely worked on. Innovation came via the sense of craft and personalization, from the Army jacket trimmed in long black leather fringe to the oversize hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with the word “Oakland” to the great denim skirts and cutoffs that appeared lovingly DIY’d.
Wang said he wanted the models to look as though they were wearing their own clothes to a casting. In other words, models off-duty, the catchphrase of his early work, a shorthand for effortless cool. Ten years later, his girls have evolved into so much more than cool.