By Jemma Walker
Alexander Wang has been Balenciaga’s creative director since 2012, but the American designer’s AW15 show finally lets a little Wang-wonder seep through the French house.
Alexander Wang’s latest collection, designed with an edgy urban chic in mind, has an opulent couture feel about it, with the show’s finale reminding us of the recent Balenciaga couture collection. The modern twist for autumn/winter is identified before any clothes came into sight when, before taking her seat on the FROW, a newly-brunette Lady Gaga gave a performance on the catwalk, bedazzled by the furious flashing of the runway photographers.
So is all this fuss really merited? Well, this season, Wang has moved away from outerwear for winter (although the collection does include a few cocoon coats) and towards eveningwear, where the magic truly happened. Mixing feminine cocktail dresses with strong, mannish flat boots, the designer has created a dressed-down sophistication allowing silhouettes and shapes to become the key focus. Using cocoon coats, puffball skirts, and dresses with belts to define the waist, every piece has been created with the dramatic Balenciaga woman in mind. Shiny belts drew attention to the waist of feminine-shaped strapless dresses, made in a rich fabric that wouldn’t be out of place in a menswear collection. These smudges of masculinity in the show also add depth and mystery, with models adorning clear sideburns and slicked back hair as they strode the catwalk for maximum effect. Alongside Dior’s backcombed side ponytails and Maison Margiela’s sizeable crimped hair, day four for of PFW is defiantely challenging the beauty boundaries.
Using a gentle and refined palette of silver-greys with black and white, the mostly monochrome collection is brightened with red and blue flecks. Cleverly, the limited colour scheme allows the shape to prevail while the accessories take the main stage.
For us, Balenciaga’s accessories are the highlight of the show. Expensive paste-pearl oversized earrings gently perch on the ears of models, making us forget for a moment the sideburns and slick-back hair and instead focus on the elegant beauty of the jewellery. The unimaginable glamour continued to stray from the collection’s monochrome constraints with red, pink and green bags. The models’ leather croc-effect gloves gripped the detailed handles of Wang’s edgy bags, the plastic chains of which are covered in a thick paint for an decadent urban twist on the bright pink and tan combination that stated unapologetic femininity.
During the show the challenging shapes appeared not only to question Fashion Week’s obsession with tailoring and androgyny, but also challenge some of the debuting models’ walking ability on the catwalk. But if this collection showed us one thing, it’s that the Balenciaga-Wang train is picking up speed and heading confidently into the future.