This season, there was no trek to Brooklyn, and no gimmicky finale at Alexander Wang's New York Fashion Week show Saturday afternoon. But there was a Rihanna and Nicki Minaj double header in the front row and one killer collection on the runway.
The starting point was the street, as is usually the case with Wang, specifically sneaker culture, but what made this collection one of Wang's best was how he married that idea with couture-level technique, including hand pleating and draping inspired by the classicism of Madame Gres, but with the sensuality of '80s era Versace.
The inspiration: "There's been this infatuation with sneakers all of a sudden," Wang said backstage, referring to fashion's current love affair with sports shoes, from Chanel's couture kicks on the runway to the Adidas Stan Smiths being worn by top editors in the front row. "But for me, the cult of following sneakers was always a part of my growing up," said the designer, who admitted his habit started with Nike Air Jordans. Today, he has nearly 100 pairs of sneakers in his closet. "The idea for the collection was to take elements of iconic sneaker designs and apply it to the clothes, marrying that with hand-done work, such as basketball mesh that's handprinted, engineered and hand plisseed onto a body form. We wanted to create sexuality, almost to fetishize sneakers."
The look: Sneaker sirens.
Key pieces: Technical knit shells and black pants with racy-looking color-blocking, paneling and piping. Pleated minidresses and white shirting with mesh insets and perforated details. Finely pleated bustiers engineered so beautifully to the body, they almost looked painted on. Athletic-looking handbags with sneaker treads on the bottom.
The verdict: To anyone who still thinks Wang's talent as a designer is just smoke and mirrors, this collection should be the last word. Wang's technical expertise has no doubt been enhanced by his time in the Balenciaga atelier in Paris, where he is creative director. And it was on full display here. Plus, it was fun to try to recognize the references -- a Stan Smith leather minidress here, an Air Jordan flame motif on a bustier there.
This sneaker feature had it all--haute details, sporty sensuality and wit.