Archive for August, 2010

Alexander Wang Fall Fashion Collection

Earlier this week, an accessories editor at a major magazine told me she was forced to ask the staff’s stylists to stop using Alexander Wang’s lace-up sandal boot from Spring 2009 in their shoots. Consider that: a contemporary designer snagging a seasonal honor Most Favored Editorial Shoe usually taken by the likes of Balenciaga or Louis Vuitton.

Defined purely by price point, his is a contemporary brand. But it’s a label Wang politely chafes at, and over the past three seasons he’s become sui generis: a designer with the creative chops to increasingly earn a place in high fashion’s conversation, but whose clothes are accessible to more than just the one percent.

Situated at this powerful vantage point, Wang chose Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe as his starting point for Fall. He took the traditional banker’s suit a push into uncharted territory for this Master of the T-shirt and deconstructed it in a dark and sexy vein. It was “about growing up, about progress,” Wang said before the show. “It’s a lot more sophisticated, more polished.” Polished yes, but hardly proper. Wang knows his girl, and she’s not following the office dress code.

Cropped blazers, tailcoats, and vests exposed slivers of skin and were worn with thick ribbed thigh-high legwarmers, often yanked down over chunky heels. Matching backpack straps were crisscrossed in front to give a bondage vibe. Layering was part of the story, but Wang’s goal was to do it in a more precise, less street-chic manner, slicing away extraneous elements. A key part of that was his new trouser, a sort of glorified belled legging that his leggy front-row fans will no doubt jump all over.

Perhaps as a counterpoint to his gray flannel inspiration, Wang also made the case for velvet in all forms, including chenille. That seems a tough sell, even for him. Then again, there’s a good likelihood that the growing number of worldwide Wang ettes some of whom surely caught the show live-streamed on SHOWstudio or on the massive American Eagle LED billboard in Times Squarewill love every little bit.


Burberry Prorsum Fashion Collection

There’s only one problem with the jackets on the Burberry Prorsum runway for Fall: Which one to choose? It’s the biggest accolade to Christopher Bailey that (a) that was a real and urgent dilemma, as the outerwear was available to pre-order instantaneously on the Burberry Web site, and (b) it would actually be impossible to go wrong. Every single one of his giant-collared shearlings, military drab overcoats and parkas and every hybrid thereof, in all their variations of volume, shape, shagginess, and leather strap and buckle detail was utterly desirable. Bailey nailed it from the point of view of proportion oversize and cropped and practicality. He did it for women who like a frisson of showy seasonal fashion, and for those who want a coat that’s destined for a long life in the hall closet. By 5 p.m. GMT, thousands of mouse-pointers all over the world were hovering in distress over which “Click to buy” button to press.

Backstage, among the seething crowd of paparazzi, film crews, and well-wishers, Bailey gave his word on where all this originated. “I was thinking of uniforms and cadet girls but it all started when I looked at an aviator jacket in the archive. Then, as I started designing into it, I realized it could be as versatile as the trench strong and sexy, masculine and feminine.” And just before he was submerged in the next wave of kissing and congratulations, he turned and grinned: “And I really enjoyed it!”

Creatively, it certainly looked like he did. Burberry is on home ground here: not trying too hard, keeping at one authentically cool thing and exploding into a look that is simple to get, yet exists in a myriad of options, all of which take care to emphasize sex appeal. It’s a simple equation: jacket; skimpy, drapey, lacy skirt; and a pair of amazing boots either right up to the thigh or (again, the agony of choice!) shearling-lined and bristling with straps.

Was it more important, though, that there was a sensation with this show that the parameters of fashion its presentation, communication, and selling were finally being forced open as the world watched? It was globally live-streamed, viewed in 3-D by clusters of invited guests in New York, Tokyo, L.A., and Dubai: That much only seems semi novel in a culture that’s already assimilated the availability of show material in record time. What’s new, and super-clever in this case, is the simultaneous pre-selling of the clothes on the runway and for three days only. As a brilliant piece of fashion-business management, it was an Olympic style streak ahead that will leave other competitors seething.