The era of Alexander Wang at Balenciaga officially came to an end at Spring/Summer 2016 Paris Fashion Week, but the designer left the house in an optimistic mood. He laid his final work for the house to rest in the most fitting way possible: with a lingerie-inspired collection that was effortless, delicately wrought, and ivory-hued throughout. The presentation was achingly beautiful and saccharine sweet. Wang clearly possesses no bitterness over his dismissal from Balenciaga. Instead, he took his final bow with a giant, delighted grin on his face, jumping through the audience as his formal swan song for the house.
Fragile silk slip dresses whispered down the runway on lace-clad, slippered feet, barely making a sound as they fluttered past. Juxtaposed against a bold, hip-hop soundtrack, the contrast was startling. Looks featured delicate bustier construction, and surfaces were traced with furrowed lines and feminine ruffles. There were full lace dresses, textured bead jackets, and silk robes that offered plush respite from the outside world — the kind of clothes one would long to slip into after a day spent in Spanx and stiff suits, but Wang’s tender propositions were meant to be worn out in public. For that reason, he stitched eye-catching tassels and cords to nearly every surface, which added frenetic movement as the looks walked, a reminder that fashion could really be comfortable and stylish at the same time. Amid all of the wispy, featherweight clothes were looks that pivoted in the direction of streetwear, like embossed hoodies, low-slung trousers, and silk coveralls. There were no sad faces at the Balenciaga show, but the joyful redux was still a somber reminder as to what the brand was losing by parting with Wang’s genius.