Balenciaga has been a name long associated with innovation. Cristóbal Balenciaga’s experimental nature produced the tunic, the pillbox hat, the sack dress – the list goes on; while Nicolas Ghesquière is credited with the house’s covetable lariat handbags, Sportiletto heels, and many other notable creations. Alexander Wang’s legacy at Balenciaga starts with the trousers he presented for Spring/Summer 2014: they were trim and shapely and overlaid with a creeping peplum that encased the hips like tulip petals. They are the most memorable moment from his latest collection, and are set to make a big splash in the fashion world. Even as Wang’s personality becomes more evident in the Balenciaga presentation with sportif silhouettes and street style touches like mesh crop tops shaped with stiff leather paneling, his willingness to experiment with fabrics and textures demonstrates his desire to stay within Balenciaga coda.
Alexander Wang’s legacy at Balenciaga starts with the trousers he presented for SS14.
In terms of tradition, Wang viewed daywear and eveningwear in reverse with a collection that moved from stiff to languid. For day, silhouettes are prim and impliable with well-cut lines and molded shapes. He repeatedly used a new type of braided leather to achieve a tough-but-delicate texture similar to pressed flowers or papier mâché. In hyper-focus on the Balenciaga runway were sleeves, shown in a vast variety of shapes and lengths: there are batwing sleeves, cap-sleeves, décolletage-framing ruffle sleeves, and sheer tank tops layered under ruffled off-shoulder sleeves. Embellishment was minimal, save for the occasional pastel mini dress scattered with tiny sprouting black feathers and marching row of tiny buttons along asymmetrical folds. Wang also updated menswear for the upcoming season by showing a white bib-smocked blouse and a tailored blazer – both worn as dresses. Sheer paneling comes into play at the end, and becomes the primary fabric for transmitting the ease and attitude of Wang’s more relaxed evening looks. When Wang plays to his strengths and agrees to Balenciaga-style experimentation, he gets ever-closer to establishing a new identity for the brand.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway