It was a baptism of fire for Alexander Wang, aged 29, known for his eponymous New York label of high-energy, downtown-cool clothes with a distinctly luxurious sportswear edge. Here was the upstart New Yorker taking the reins at the esteemed house of Balenciaga, following not only in the footsteps of Nicholas Ghesquière, the brand’s incredibly talented outgoing designer, but at the house of one of the greatest designers of all time, the late Spanish couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga, known by his peers as ‘the master of us all’.
The invitation to see Wang for Balenciaga was limited to the select few; an exclusive affair with predominantly newspapers and editors in chief only invited to see the show, held in a salon on the Avenue George V.
So what did Wang come up with? Early images revealed a minimalist silhouette and an entirely monochrome palette, with extraordinary surface detail that the average Twit-pic found hard to capture. As Cathy Horyn of the New York Times put it: ‘Even up close it was tough to identify fabrics at Balenciaga. What looked like crackled leather was a knit. Plastic–like dots, embroidery.’
The marble effect on the back of the invitation was a key theme, with the stone’s veins and patterns spreading across narrow coats, topiary-like knitwear and black lace jeans.
ELLE editor-in-chief, Lorraine Candy, called the collection a ‘powerful statement’ and said it looked clean, modern and importantly wearable.
'This was a strong, elegant and feminine debut collection which gives us hope of even greater things to come from Alex,' she says. 'Smart, stylish detail on every piece and a clear sign he will evolve the brand with his own personal aesthetic. The front row cheered as the designer took his bow - proof of his well earned and enduring popularity and a sign he will be supported going forward. He should be as proud of his work as we are.'
The Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley tweeted: ‘intelligent, respectful, modern, silhouette-based. Hint of a stealth land-grab of Raf-Dior territory…?’
One thing is certain, it will be fascinating to see how the fashion-buying world reacts to this collection. To buy or not to buy, that is the question.
Come back to ELLE soon to see all the pics, straight off the catwalk.