Tag: alexander wang

ALEXANDER WANG & BALENCIAGA

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intially filled with doubt, the aesthetic that alexander wang has begun creating during his creative beginnings at balenciaga is that of intense interest for me. i love to see how new designers adapt to an existing heritage, and also love to see how american influences are applied to the international fashion design approach. overall, alexander wang has proven to be a force in fashion through his own label, which houses a name-sake collection, and a diffusion line of basics, t by alexander wang. through his utilization of street inspiration, an active wear; i had wondered what wang would apply to balenciaga’s robust archive of influential design.

i wondered if wang could even amount to former creative direction, nicholas ghesquiere, which blew my doubts up to extreme proportions. but when wang’s debut collection for the spanish house walked the ultra-exclusive catwalk at the balenciaga salon. the collection was tight and right, the clothes were dark and expressed a true sense of wang’s approach of style, with inclusion of street elements, but mindful comparability to balenciaga house signature. volume is one of the biggest influences at balenciaga, the house is credited for it’s alteration to the ways that women seen silhouette and shape. much of that was provided in wang’s debut collection at the label while what you seen was a balance of both hard and soft. soft were the silhouettes while painted leathers crackled their way onto the runway, which housed a tight 34 looks. a marriage of taste was seen in a vibrant, yet underplayed way. just enough to reel you in, but subtle enough to keep you guessing and wanting to know more. wang spoke in interviews saying he was, “identifying codes of the house” to produce modern translations in wardrobe form.

in his young age, alexander wang has done great things in the years he has spent designing clothes. his approach is modern and revitalized, providing a fresh glance of the future while we see nostalgic nods to elements we’ve long loved, and sometimes have forgotten. wang represents the new generation of visionaries in design, that allow bouts of culture to become utilized as taste level indicators. it’s about an attitude for him, and has been through his own work. the influential work of cristobal balenciaga is still very much under valued and has been historically in the world of high fashion. wang brings forth a visibility for a young demographic that will enhance the labels heritage by reigniting some of what was created back in 30’s. while this young demographic may serve well through publicity, wang’s approach can assist the pre-existing balenciaga clientele with a different take on things. one thing the balenciaga label has become synonymous with is innovation, and in this new chapter for the house- that innovation seems to be more balanced with a greater sense of functionality. that pure innovation will always live in those balenciaga archives, but in the last three collections that wang has created at balenciaga, he seems to be spot on and has a vibrant voice that speaks volumes to his sensibility of spanish style, with european appeal and american function.

THE REINVENTION OF BALENCIAGA

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it’s interesting to look at the ways in which brands are redefined & mass marketed in today’s global industry of fashion- balenciaga being one of the hottest on the block. though this rise in temperature is nothing new for the french based, spanish heritage label, the american whose been cast in the role of game changer at the house definitely has our attention. fashion school drop out, alexander wang is the new installment at balenciaga and is beginning to show through the labels design direction and now through advertising. anyone who knows about re-branding or re-invention knows it’s not an overnight process. wang’s understanding of street style & the merging of high style have proven to be a successful level of execution that is completely necessary in today’s fashion market. as a designer, you wear many hats- and we’re not talking millinery. you have to be a public figure, a celebrity, an artist, a business man and a public speaker among many other smaller or sub-roles within larger roles, im sure. headed toward the lane of today’s design superstars, like marc jacobs or karl lagerfeld; wang understands the importance in balance of beauty & business, which makes him a noted, as well as valuable asset.

what’s even more alluring in the discussion of balenciaga are the after thoughts of it’s own page turning history. an abrupt ending of one chapter & a jaw-dropping entry into the next had us all wondering what went wrong. the awe inspiring star power & design innovation that balenciaga became through the creative vision of nicholas ghesquière was nothing short of fashion genius. since that abrupt ending, and wang’s installment, ghesquière has opened up about his departure. exposing creative frustrations & lack of business know-how at the label. all this and one has to wonder- how can creativity prevail? most certainly, the house of balenciaga was thrust into modernity, shit- the house was thrust into the future and ultimately resulted in other houses following suit. there once was a tumblr account, which conveniently vanished from cyberspace, but was hailed by fashion kids & interestingly appeared before the announced departure of ghesquière; it reminded us of how thoroughly the house and ghesquière really have set the trends, and how other fashion houses followed suit- even years after balenciaga put them on their runway.

the history of balenciaga as a house, as well as it’s founding father, cristobal balenciaga are very interesting to compare and contrast. cristobal himself shyed away from the spotlight, he had no interest in popularized aesthetics. in fact, he was the opposite of christian dior. dior’s new look was rivaled with balenciaga’s fluid lines- streamlined and linear are how his work has often been described. cristobal murdered the fashion scene, debuting new silhouettes that redefined the ways that women could dress up to feel beautiful. these days, fashion has become too political. i’ll use the example of american vogue- you understand that only key players will land the cover & through negotiation or business strategy. that’s what fashion is today, the creative component is looked at secondary. the business angle is what allows or distracts from how far a label will go. balenciaga, in my mind, didn’t seem to have this problem. an unmistakably powerful combination, ghesquière for balenciaga ushered in a new era where it became about the clothes again. much to our dismay, this happened despite ghesquière’s own unhappiness there. imagine, if his legacy can be birthed even through frustration, what would happen should he be in a space of calm? in an environment where he was free to create, without restraint. inarguable is the legacy of balenciaga and now is an interesting point of re-invention.

following wang’s somewhat demur, or thoughtfully controlled debut during the FW13/14 show season, we now get our first look at the label’s latest advertising campaign, wang’s first at balenciaga. i loved the collections darkness & appreciated the use of texture. the cracked leather, the simulation of woodgrain- it was all very chic, but very wang. i struggled with the idea that balenciaga would remain as innovative as it had been while under the guidance of ghesquière, but then again- would it be a new era if we were to stay in that lane? would these collections by wang hinge too closely the aesthetics of his own namesake new york collections? how well will both differ? as a fashion school drop out, could wang pull it off with technical knowledge and understanding of silhouette? does he understand the format thoroughly enough to break it? now looking at the campaign, it seems as though he’s moving into the right direction, but even through the lens of steven klein and the anonymous backshot of kristen mcmenamy- you’re still left wondering. it’s the kind of marketing mentality that indeed keeps us wondering.

it’s pulling us in, whether we like it or not because we want to find out what will happen next. comparable to chanel, since  karl lagerfeld loves a good greyscaled image set, some might find the comparison too dull. for a name like wang or a name like balenciaga. wang’s 35 piece collection appeared a much more private mannered runway presentation. you felt the sense of change as you now sense in this campaign, yet you’re left longing for more. the hint of fluidity in silhouette makes me want to see more of the campaign; the palette for the collection was rather controlled as well- it leads me to believe that this elements are thought of. it’s all under control. the level of publicity given, the level of access given, the level of visibility seen from the clothes to the model. it’s all carefully under wraps. but will this prove to be a winning combination? how is the heritage and future both simultaneously being represented? no doubt, the ending of balenciaga is nowhere near- but now is where wang has to make it count. it seems as though he’s sticking to what he knows. black & white, it’s faultless. he’s played with texture heavily, but none of that is evident in the campaign, as yet. the referencing of the archives is present in the collection, but again, not in the campaign. how does this image represent that re-invention, that sense of ‘this is balenciaga’; more importantly, how does this create greater self distinction between balenciaga, a leader in innovation, and it’s other competitive counterparts? we’re watching and waiting, something tells me that something awaits behind that door.

GHESQUIÈRE FOR BALENCIAGA: 1997-2012

effective today, nicholas ghesquiere at the house of balenciaga will be no more. after 15 years of highly influential work at one of fashion’s most acclaimed labels, it was a complete shot to read that nicholas ghesquiere would part ways with french fashion house, which he brought to the forefront of innovation & glamour futurism for the last decade, plus. untouchable through the 2000’s, balenciaga has become a name so synonymous with innovation & unparalleled imagination that it seemed to surpass the boundary of our present day & times. this direction that has become so closely associated with the house of balenciaga in today’s industry is all thanks to the work of ghesquiere. as a fashion house, cristobal balenciaga showed his first collection in 1937. the influence of balenciaga, the man, is still seen in many of fashion’s most creative entities, most noteably the house of givenchy. a rarity of a fashion persona, balenciaga resisted many forms of major media & had become underrated for the work he had influenced into the mainstream, with competitor christian dior. while the house had gone dormant from 1968-1986, the resurgence of the houses fashion heritage thrived & was resurrected throughout the 80’s and 90’s, leading to ghesquiere’s creative role in 1997.

just a week before the new of ghesquiere’s departure his the internet and our jaws hit the floor, i had been made aware of a blog that went to identify the true & present influence of balenciaga. titled, balenciagadiditfirst, that tumblr space is now closed. though unable to be viewed at this time, the space really clarified the level of creativity in which the house of balenciaga has lead the way with for longer than a decade. from groundbreaking campaigns, to insanely beautiful footwear- balenciaga as a house is untouchable. but in the last season or two, many had made comments about lackluster concepts, the feeling of departure felt in design & how much longer ghesquiere would be in place. initially, when he was brought in to lead the label, ghesquiere was hailed for his apprenticed work with jean paul-gaultier & also boasts the skill of being self taught- a rare quality that isn’t often able to draw such credibility as he ghesquiere has now proven & defined through the years. the pairing of ghesquiere with the house of balenciaga was and will remain a true revolution in the world of design. never had a house seen such poignant revitalization that both honored & upgraded a label’s heritage as it had under the guidance of ghesquiere, who has proven himself to be a true gem of a visionary.

i sit, thinking of where fashion is headed- what will be left of the vision and imaginative re-workings of years past through these great designers who have been carefully selected as creative directors. these individuals have greater power than we realize or acknowledge in the present day. if you even look at the archived campaigns of the house of balenciaga; the evolution of design & the tested boundary of what could and would be is something of a fantasy. you can review such an archive on the official balenciaga website, which fundamentally outlines the level of growth ghesquiere had as an artist working with the house. to think that clothes like these are now in closets, walked runways & were photographed for glossy magazines around the globe is that of true artistic execution. this fulfilled potential, i feel, that ghesquiere was able to produce during his tenure at balenciaga is nowhere nearly as valuable now, as it will be in the future. what we have witnessed through his work at balenciaga will live forever, with no expiration or proper replacement.

in speaking of replacements, onward motion of artists & where certain paths lead- there has been speculation that ghesquiere will head of the planned resurrection of schiaparelli, which has lay dormant since 1954. historically, schiaparelli is widely regarded as the most prominent fashion figure between the two world wars. she was a rival of coco chanel. this alone lays such an interesting groundwork for a label to reemerge & with balenciaga’s ownership coming by way of the house of gucci, under PPR- it’s very possible that ghesquiere’s evolution is just scratching the surface. as the internet becomes abuzz with news of american deisgner alexander wang taking the helm at balenciaga, we await an official announcement from the house of balenciaga, while my heart weighs heavily with doubt of whether wang can deliver & execute on the level ghesquiere has. the context of great design as it relates to america, in comparison to paris- forget it. there is no competition. as an american, while i recognize the creative potential of my country; im also a realist & recognize that fashion lives & dies in paris, france. this is fact, not an opinion. while i have observed alexander wang’s own collections, both the alexander wang mainline & his T collections- i don’t feel that he is equipped to take on the immense value of a fashion house that holds as much weight as balenciaga. his knack for turning ugly into beautiful or awkward into interesting is, yes, a skill- but how will this coincide with the work & heritage of balenciaga. a failure in this regard could alter fashion & wang’s own career forever. this is dangerous territory & not at all considered a game.

while time, and the planned announcement, will tell whether or not this is a fitting match; my doubts become stacked. i absolutely doubt wang’s ability to go from american fashion house in new york, to the big leagues of paris with a house that had been founded in 1914. while cristobal balenciaga had showed his first collection in 1973- the house & his boutique was first opened in 1918. wang’s reference of grunge compared to ghesquiere’s reinterpretation of the spanish renaissance- are you kidding? how can this even be considered in the same league? the archives of balenciaga, considering only the work of ghesquiere in the last five years, compared to wang’s entire career; wang is devoured. there is not competition. this is like dinosaurs battling new born babies. my doubts are heavy, i have no hesitation in admitting or articulating this as so. when they spoke of the mayan calendar ending in 2012; this could very well be the change that has been foretold. a new era has begun and there’s not telling where any of this will end up. [source]

a look back at some of my favorite baleciaga campaigns through the years

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visit balenciaga for an extended retrospective look at campaigns
during nicholas ghesquiere’s tenure from 1998-2012

SPRING MENSWEAR: T BY ALEXANDER WANG

NEW YORK – as an extension of the informality felt in the alexander wang menswear mainline, the T collections are again, in that lane of the irresistably cool. i love that so much of wang’s design approach seems to be derived from the school of thought that you can just throw the pieces on. it’s almost as if the clothes are wearing you, but thoughtfully so- the clothes wouldn’t be on your body unless you were at a certain level of style conciousness. i find it interesting to observe the ways that designers differentiate their mainlines from their moderately priced diffusion collections. the difference can be measured for wang’s collections in my choice to review them one after the other. as seen, the main difference is the palette from the mainline to the diffusion collection. wang’s T collections are normally much more light than his mainline. the trend of neon for the spring 2013 season, is evident in this collection & differs from the heavy black palette of wang’s mainline. outside of palette differences, the collection essentially follow the same form of silhouette & successfully allow the diffusion line to imitate what we love so greatly about it’s counterpart.

i admire the athleticism reflected in the design of the T collection & recognize that there is a focus on simplicity as well as an emphasis on knitwear. one aspect i respect about wang’s business approach is the fact that he seems to possess an understanding of the business through all of it’s corporate infra-structures. through the expansion of fashion as dominating global business, many designers crack under the pressure as their collections seem to focus less on style & more about the need to sell. wang showcases his connection with the street & continues to blaze trails while representing what it takes to truly make it in the fast pace, globalized world of high end fashion. as always, the T collection represents the casual style that has made wang a star & incorporates some of the design elements from his mainline. from his mainline to the diffusion line, though differences are noted, there is still complete cohesion in an overall branding & styling image sense. job well done & fitting for spring. [source]

SPRING MENSWEAR: ALEXANDER WANG

NEW YORK – an unending cool that is representative of street style often associated with new york is what comes to mind whenever alexander wang is mentioned. with his menswear collections now quickly scurring up the high fashion food chain, there is a certain element of street grime & high fashion minimalism that is executed expertly well when viewing wang’s collections. it’s that level of confidence that sees men rocking leather shorts & baseball caps in the spring- it’s unapologetically informal, beautifully athletic & irresistable dark. wang’s aesthetic signature is among the most profound in this new school of design talents that currently bringing the american fashion market back into greater design relevance. among the drab, boring & uninspired collections coming out of new york city & the american fashion scene- alexander wang is one of those names that immediately sparks a reel of images in your mind. you think leather, sleek lines & interesting concepts that make the odd, beautiful. there is always some form of awkward held in wang’s work- that’s the level of intrigue that sets him apart. it’s this indescribable cool factor.

wang’s not afraid to push the boundary or go beyond the limit to create something distinct & new. i love wang’s ability to be young. many of his inspirations are young, the music he chooses for his runway soundtracks- everything is always fresh. it’s street & provocatively so. i would love to see his menswear collections presented on the runways in paris; i think it would be an interesting balance for him to show a collection on the level he does his womenswear in new york. would love to see a male counterpart to the unending cool of his female line. much of his womenswear pieces have that same cocky nature or self assured energy which flows freely through his menswear designs as well. though small in number, the menswear collection packs a punch with incredible depth. as the collection images channel that street feel with the industrialized backdrop, the clothes draw their focus on layering.  thoughtfully styled, the pieces are simple but when created as full looks- the sense of style looking to be translated comes to life, completely. i expect to see greater development in wang’s menswear design ventures & hope that what he does for guys will someone balance out or slightly equal to what he does & has done for women. [source]

PRE-FALL COLLECTIONS: ALEXANDER WANG

NEW YORK – of the new school of fashion designers, you really see an emphasis on fusion. of my generation, you see a combination of numerous elements all tied together seamlessly. in high fashion, alexander wang is one of the greatest, young outstanding talents. his ability to take the traditional & supe it up with something ultra-modern is a true skill that not many possess. amidst all the designer & style fakes of new york city, shit, in american in general- wang is a true gem. his namesake label was launched in 2005, after he studied for only one year at parsons new school of design & then dropped out. originally from san francisco, wang had only been in new york for a year before he basically bum rushed the fashion game with his unique design eye & undeniable knack for downtown style. with internships at marc jacobs, teen vogue & involvement with derek lam, wang seems to be a seasoned eye after only a few years in the game. partnered with his own family to run his namesake label, alexander wang represents the essence of opportunity seen in taking risks. in 2008, alexander wang won the CFDA vogue fashion fund & thus created his officially entry into the upper tear of high fashion design. since that time, wang’s eye continues to develop & flourish in front of our very eyes as he deals in design greatness, flying a cut above all of new york city.

this pre-season, as fashion week looms, wang’s eye doesn’t flutter one bit, he is still as hungry as he’s ever been & it shows in the clothes. a unique mixture of formal wear, street chic pieces with a slice of both masculinity & femininity thrown in to balance one another, are all seen within this collection. kept cool in palette with a set of stoned greys, that later become contrasted with rusted red & squashed yellows- wang continues to redefine the definition of cool. as an american, i tend to look at the designers in new york much more different than those in the other fashion capitals of europe. i’ve been very open with my feelings of american fashion being watered down, or of lesser quality & to this i will again restate my opinion. it’s as if america is over saturated with too many influences, which ultimately just kills everything that is pure or even uniquely influenced. this pre-season, alexander want seemingly takes on a design direction that is a bit more restrictive, there’s something very academic about the collection, something very lean, strong & structured. there is a particularly unique amount of attention that is paid to tailoring, a element which is often only left for menswear. i like that even in combination with the collections use of strong lines, there exists this fragile moment of femininity toward the close, in the collections set of draped, body conscious dresses that seemed to act as an ode to fashion design queen of new york city, donna karan.

said to have been provoked in design to create ‘deceptive textures; wang opted for lots of sheer & some knitwear for the pre-fall season. i can always expect something interesting from wang, whether i understand the vision at first or not. responsive as an artist, there is an element of surprise & you get the unexpected when look at his collections. already a fully functioning design label in the force of fashion, wang kills it & hard even in the pre-season. it will definitely be interesting to see if his FW13 collection presented in new york, this february will play to the tune of this set or if an entirely new set of design will be presented. an inspiring set, if any, for the new york fashion scene. looks like wang will continue to win.  [source]

runway video: alexander wang fall collection, new york