NEW YORK — At 34, Alexander Wang has had his fill of labels. “People like to say, ‘Oh, you’re a downtown brand,” Wang said the other day, adding: “Yes, we’re geographically located downtown. But what does that actually mean? Why does geography have to define who you are?”
Wang does in fact spend much of his time with friends in the uptown precincts of Lexington Avenue, within sprinting distance of Barneys New York. He routinely scours the store’s corridors for a next generation of ladies who lunch, a cohort inclined to mix status-laden Chanel tweeds with darker, more subversive matter.
Wang set out, partly at least, to cater to that crowd, his Collection 2 an improbable meld of commerce, convention and kink. Staged on Saturday evening in the subterranean depths of a tower in Brooklyn — the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank — the show was a waggish attempt to speak to a client who exists, for now, chiefly in his febrile mind.
To gauge from his runway, he envisions her (or him) pairing a bouclé coat or cardigan with leather chaps or butcher’s aprons straight out of a Mapplethorpe photograph; slinging a boyish camel coat over men’s boxers; or accessorizing a garishly colorful rugby shirt with racy python boots.
The objective, Wang said, was to give each item a novel context. “Power doesn’t have to be aligned with formality,” he said. “And luxury doesn’t have to be pretentious.”
He intended a breakaway collection in more ways than one. He made hash of the seasons, mingling a faux leopard coat with shorts, and a Tattersall shirt with a slinky flower-patterned slip. And for the second time this year (he showed an earlier collection in June), he ignored the New York fashion calendar.
“If we’re taking seasonality out of our collection,” Wang said, “it just makes sense that we don’t participate in a fashion week that is labeled by season.”
Going rogue is a risk, he knows, but to his mind one worth taking. Sales last season exceeded company projections, he said.
His mind may be on commerce, but Wang is nothing if not droll: his sense of fun encapsulated in Sophia, a bandanna-clad cyborg who took her place, without fanfare, in the front row. Perhaps she was merely there to amuse. Or maybe her presence was meant to tweak a front row accustomed to snaring the spotlight entirely for itself.
The New York Times
Ruth La Ferla © 2018 The New York Times