On October 7th, less than a week after Alexander Wang’s final show at Balenciaga, Kering named Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia as his predecessor. In this era of the unpredictable new appointments, the choice shifted everyone’s attention. Thankfully, even shifted attention away from Alexander Wang’s finale. The show, possibly the most anticipated of show month met reviews ranging from admiration to pitiful disgust. I fell somewhere in between. Not impressed by the collection (save for Lexi Boling’s ruffled maxi dream of a dress) In true Wang form, Alex closed his show with a jovial jog around the runway. This time with phone in hand for selfies and what seemed to be a slightly forced display of IDGAF. I can’t say I didn’t love it. Did it go too far...maybe? This is Paris. This is a storied, couture house...in Paris. You took the job by choice. Celebratory selfies and B.I.G. (may he RIP) repeating his plans to go “Back to Cali”, Wang's birthplace, may have tipped the scale of likeability in the opposite direction. Who's to say how “amicable” the split between Wang and Balenciaga actually was, my guess is somewhere between conscious uncoupling and a reality television breakup. Polite but quick and cheap. And similar to a reality show relationship, this union was all gloss and no substance. It’s a shame the Wang x Balenciaga will be a severely abrupt era forever tattooed with a desperate attempt at commercial attention. It should not have happened but the allure of adding couture to his resume and the potential to have a wunderkind reinvent your house was too much to resist on either end.
The Alexander Wang story is definitely still in the early chapters. There are massive decisions to be made, sweeping changes that could take place to shift the entire Wang trajectory. Will he venture in fragrance? Will they redesign the bridge collection, T by Alexander Wang? Is there foreseeable growth in his freestanding retail presence? So many pages between now and what could ultimately become a monarch American brand. Alex has a reputation for being steadfast with loyalty to his own vision. When you create something that no one has been able to yet replicate, bask in that freedom for a while. Even if you consider Wang’s contribution to fashion artless and domestic, it was his contribution to bask in. Balenciaga not only was an ill fit for Wang, but it was grossly premature. Alexander Wang is an American brand in growth stages, it could go either way still. There is still a little time for today’s Alexander Wang to become tomorrow’s Zac Posen. But that won’t happen. Alexander Wang will mature into the irreplaceable American force we’ve all counted on. He won’t be a Proenza Schouler, elevated and steadily riding the line of unreachable. Like Michael Kors before him he will continue to sharpen and settle into his self-created niche and he will make it so delicious to everyone of every shopping category that his very being becomes a mega brand. But dear Alex, I am so happy you’re allowing yourself time to do this. Balenciaga didn’t need you - it needed a representative to speak a particular language on its behalf. That’s beneath you. Maybe you realized this and let it get to you.
The collection was created post announcement, so you have to wonder how much bitterness was injected into the show. He sent a model army of proverbial swans, the white, the feathered detailing, the pond-like waters, undoubtedly to drive home the fact that this was his swan song. The collection was delicate in the most metropolitan of ways, it was unapologetically wearable. Disheveled...sloppy even. An ode to Wang girls who make luxury touchable. Girls who like American designers, collect status bags and still read print magazines. It wasn’t very Parisian. It wasn’t very Balenciaga. It was Alexander Wang’s middle finger decked in lace.