Paris Fashion Week: Wang’s New Balenciaga
With only ELLE’s editor in chief invited from the British ELLE stable, this review is written from pictures and thoughts from industry insiders who were lucky enough to be given a seat.
No matter, by all accounts, Alexander Wang’s debut collection for Balenciaga was a resounding success.
Wang, aged 29, is known for his eponymous New York label of high-energy, downtown-cool clothes with a distinct sport-luxe edge. Here was the upstart New Yorker taking the reins at the esteemed house of Balenciaga, following not only in the footsteps of Nicholas Ghesquiere, the brand’s supremely talented outgoing designer, but also one of the greatest designers of all time, the late Spanish couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga, known by his peers as ‘the master of us all’.
From what we can see – the front only – this looked like a powerful, controlled, blisteringly modern collection with just the right quotient of reverence for the master’s work. Not the sporty vibe one might have expected from Wang, but the polish and chic of a designer beyond his years.
It was cut almost entirely in monochrome. He opened with a black coat, with rounded sleeves, a simple silver bar-like safety pin at the neck, skinny black trousers and shiny flat black boots that echoed the neck with silver fastenings – undoubtedly best sellers in the waiting. As were the second-skin suede boots that reached over the knee and the single bag style, in black and white – a petite, boxy number, framed with a handle.
Trousers came with high waists, the better to show off short spherical jackets with neat collars, tops made from what appeared to be painted-cracked leather and round cosy jackets made from either carpet-like knitwear or was it fur? These were ‘marbled’ with veins of grey and very dark green and worn with thin black lace trousers with cut outs that exposed the skin beneath.
Elegant black dresses were sliced down the back (as revealed by the mirror backdrop) where a silver bow on a black band was worn as a bra. Shorter dresses cut crisply to the knee looked ladylike, as did knitted skirt suits, whirling with the aforementioned marble pattern.
After the show, insiders raved about the collection’s fabrics and in particular the embroideries - almost imperceptible in the pictures online. They said, even with a front row pew, that it was hard to make out what certain pieces were actually made of. But all seemed to agree that this was a strong debut from Wang, with buckets of commercial clout.