Posted by: Rachel Iwaniec
With all the flash walking down the runway this season, the highly anticipated, Balenciaga show stands out. Critics were foaming at the mouth, ready for another Lindsay Lohan moment in fashion. It was going to go down one of two ways: Mr. Wang would succumb to the endless doubt pouring from the media and everyone else’s mouths. Or the definition of a talented designer would have to be re-written.
Weeks before fashion month and days following Mr. Wang’s personal show, everyone believed they knew the fate of the 29 year-old. Trying to implement some sort of formula, critics and fashion observers alike attempted to solve the conundrum that was the unknown. Many expressed anger towards Mr. Pinault’s decision to appoint Wang to the thrown of the fashion house that since its inception had never been touched by an American or anyone under the age of thirty for that matter. Others believed that Wang’s Fall collection for his own label was telling of what we would be seeing on the runway at Balenciaga. In reality, we were all wrong.
The minimalistic and acute attention to detail was breath taking. Simultaneously the young designer seemed to effortlessly expand the fashion label to suggest more wearable shapes while staying close to the brand’s original designs. Showing his respect for those that preceded him, Mr. Wang’s modus operandi oozed out of every detail in the garments. Personally, I could not take my eyes off the boots and every little bow-tie detail. A nod to the original works of the label, these small, but significant details added a touch of elegance to the very structured form. While some believed the designer played it too safe with his first collection for Balenciaga, no one could dispute Wang’s success and talent.
The thing that strikes me the most from Balenciaga’s new affairs is the fashion industry’s difficulty adapting to change. In a business where everything has a short shelf life, I find it surprising that so many were distraught and disoriented by the decision to appoint not only a young designer, but a designer from another country. Today nothing is as it seems. Outsourcing, technology, competition, and so much more have muddied the boundaries that shaped the foundations of the industry. So my question is, how can the fashion elite reject new players. Isn’t fashion supposed to be the asylum for all things out of the ordinary?
Alexander Wang’s success in his role at Balenciaga should mark a new chapter for the industry. Rather than scoffing, fashion should provide support for such moments.