Alexander Wang has captured the mind and pocketbook of a generation and I’m pretty sure someone my age (hold on, I’ll show my AARP card for identification) is supposed to sit here and shake my head and say something about how this younger generation is just going to pot (literally). Either that, or I’m supposed to bemoan the current status of pop culture fashion.
I’m sorry, but I won’t be playing the role of grouchy old photographer all that well at the moment. I rather enjoyed all the attitude and rebelliousness Wang brought to this collection. He had me the moment he set his show in the sanctuary of a church, of all places. Not just any church, either, but Saint Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue with it’s big, impressive Gothic architecture, immense arches, and soaring stained glass windows complete with all the iconic imagery one might expect. I’m not sure if I am more impressed that Wang would ask to use such a facility, or that St. Bart’s interim rector actually let him do it.
Into this immense space, filled narthex to altar, Wang brought leather. And studs. Chokers. Chains. If you think you’re picking up on a BDSM theme, you would be correct. And yes, it’s coming right up the center aisle, the same one a white-ensconced bride walked down just last week. This is the anti- collection, which makes me wonder if there’s any connection to Beyoncé’s new album by the same name. Certainly, it looks as though Wang could have designed her Super Bowl wardrobe.
Yes, I’m sure a lot of people are going to be upset by everything in this collection from the blatant sexuality to copious amounts of leather devices to silhouettes of a stripper on a pole (expect those sweatshirts to sell out quickly). There’s plenty here to offend, which pretty much guarantees that the collection is going to be a hit. The attitude isn’t so much about being bad as much as it is making everyone else wonder just how bad one might be. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a collection more directly plugged directly into the pulse of urban teen angst.
Take away all the attitude and the loud music (newly released by Baauer, MIA and GDragon, according to the notes … don’t ask me who those people might be), and what one has are some pretty impressive pieces of clothing. Sure, Want went heavy on the leather and studs, but he also made some interesting moves in other directions that are going to resonate even stronger long term. Let’s talk about the message-laden hose the women wore with bands around the thigh that read, “strict” or “tender.” Or the furry tank tops with the same words “shaved” into them. Let’s talk about Alex’s creative use of hoops and pins and bars throughout the collection. Don’t forget the ankle-length column dresses with the paint-stain print. And we have to mention the lacing that gives a corset-like shape to dresses and tops.
Then, there’s that stripper silhouette. From the moment the first one hit the runway there were complaints that it was demeaning to women or that it was just the worst possible of taste. The silhouette is large on different colored sweatshirts, and a smaller print on several trousers and pants. How can anyone really be surprised after the public relations success of having pole dancers at the afterparty for last season’s show? This is merely the continuation of a theme and I will be surprised if it is not the best seller of the collection.
Of course, there are knit caps and hoodies that will cost oh so much more than their value; those have pretty much become foundation garments for this generation. The accessories cannot help but be a hit as well.
So this Alexander Wang collection is a bit generationally and socially polarizing for some people. I don’t see a problem with that. Wang’s really doing some extremely impressive and creative work here. Don’t let the attitude fool you, this is good fashion.