Eric Wilson's Front Row Diary: Alexander Wang Gave a Good Show, But You Know This Already, Don't You?
Technology has changed the way we look at fashion shows, and fashion at large, in such a profound way over the last few years that it is sometimes hard for those of us who document the comings and goings of style to explain just what it is like, exactly, to be at Fashion Week in person. This crossed my mind when Alexander Wang staged his show on Saturday afternoon on a pier on the East River, way downtown, and guests fumbled their ways to their seats through a darkened tunnel that looked rather ominous, maybe more so because it was snowing outside.
But you might already know this from watching online.
Hold on a second, I have an e-mail message coming in.
“I’m watching you live, at Wang,” writes my friend Anita from somewhere far away. “Nice haircut.”
Um. I did just come from the barbershop. It’s a bit scary and strange, and also fantastic and thrilling, and maybe even a little dangerous, that people watching Fashion Week at home on livestreams often have a better vantage on the proceedings than those of us who’ve been covering the shows for decades. Sitting at Wang’s show, I thought I saw a cluster of photographers and flashes going off, but I couldn’t tell who was there. On my phone, I could stream the event with about a one-minute delay and saw Nicki Minaj, and Kanye and Kim, and Brooke Candy. As the show started, I used Shazam to identify the song, “The Day is My Enemy,” from Prodigy’s new album that will be released in March. And if you were watching closely, you, too, probably could have seen me doing all of this, as well as admire my new haircut.
I’m not complaining, mind you, because nothing quite gives you the real context of a collection as being there. Wang just happens to be a good example of a designer who sees the possibilities for communicating beyond the traditional boundaries of the front rows, maybe even above our heads, while he still creates an enjoyable experience in real time. It was a good show. His spring collection was inspired by athletic footwear, and his fall collection was largely about shoes, too, as in the big army boots the models wore as they marched, or practically bounded, down the runway (pictured, above). They wore dark, tough, gothic clothes, or at least clothes that looked that way with the music and styling, but that were really quite precious (pictured, below). A sweater came with pearl-like studs applied in pinstripes. So too did a bathrobe coat that was traced in studs. There were dresses and skirts of what appeared to be chain mail. And a touch of grunge, too.
Joseph Altuzarra values presentation, maybe in a more traditional way. Eighteenth century dandies and Truman Capote’s “Swans” were cited as inspirations by Altuzarra, but his designs did not seem by any means lost in the past. A lot of designers have toyed with the idea of a woman who nonchalantly tosses a man’s jacket over a slip dress, but in Altuzarra’s collection (pictured, below left), the contrast look seemed a little looser and a lot less reliant on having a man around in the first place. Some of his dresses were super light – one was made of panels of lace that became lighter and lighter until almost non-existent. Others were super thick – double-face cashmere suits in soft blue and camel, with hints of ruffled hems and bundles of fur collars, while his shiny lurex dresses came with high thigh slits, similar to ones from his spring show. The thrills in this show were the contrast (plus a few frills, as in lacy stockings popping out of his boots).
It was a hectic Valentine’s Day for fashion, beginning with Lacoste’s show in the morning, where designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista reconnected with the house roots in a collection that paid tribute to René Lacoste. T-shirts and tracksuits came bearing the legend “René did it first” (pictured, top). Perhaps Baptista was hinting at all the designers who have jumped on the athleisure trend this year by offering Lacoste’s clever combinations of tracksuits and topcoats, for those who believe it really is desirable to go from the gym to the office.
And for some it ended with the Moncler Grenoble collection, where models in sleekly down-feathered skiwear appeared in beautiful pairs, culminating with a bride and groom (she in a full-length white puffer gown; pictured, above right), kissing at the finale.