Hot new designers at the helm of historical brands have an enormous burden to carry for the first few seasons. They must respect house codes while simultaneously establishing their own regime, all under the harsh scrutiny of investors, editors, and reviewers. Alexander Wang may have played it safe for his first few collections at Balenciaga, navigating nimbly through the tricky terrain that follows in the wake of Nicolas Ghesquière’s tenure, but last night’s Spring/Summer 2015 presentation saw the young designer truly spread his wings. The austere and opulent glory of his collection sent delicious shockwaves through the audience at Paris Fashion Week; Wang had thrown caution to the wind to embrace a new aesthetic altogether.
He did that all the while keeping in mind the DNA and codes of the House of Balenciaga, weaving in elements from Cristobal’s atelier to act as real-world correlations between the collection and the brand itself. The monochrome, diamond-shaped floors of Balenciaga’s couture salon in Paris were echoed in both the monochrome palette of the presentation and the diamond-shaped mesh textiles of the clothes. Wang’s subtle homage took a contemporary turn, however, with a high/low mix of futuristic fashion – think somewhere along the lines of The Matrix – and uber-cool streetwear, Wang’s specialty. The result was an army of models who marched (literally – there was no strutting or gliding involved) in floor-sweeping dusters, crisp shirtdresses, and perforated sweaters made from lacquered leather.
Wang relied on textures to give his collection added dimensionality, with body-hugging ruched pleating on pastel frocks, mesh overlays made from alternating weaves, little tufts of material sewn onto the body of his dresses, and a fabric made from what looked like independently sewn, diamond-shaped scales that moved and glimmered with every step. The diamond shape that ran throughout the presentation, the off-shoulder details, and the cross-body necklines kept the collection cohesive. For the first time since he took charge, this really feels like Wang’s Balenciaga.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree