This Is Alexander Wang’s America
Posted June 6, 2018 7:09 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK — It was not fashion week. This was worth remembering Sunday night as the wind whipped over the rooftop of a freshly refurbished building in the South Street Seaport of Manhattan, as the front row filled with the rapper Pusha T and the models Jourdan Dunn and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, as Sandra Bernhard prowled with a camera crew, doing interviews for “Wang TV.”
It certainly looked like fashion week. It also looked like rain.
Creating this kind of spectacle has long been a specialty of Alexander Wang. Now he has slipped the surly bonds of fashion week to do it.
It seems likely more will follow. The whole industry is trying to reason out how to give its wares more time on the shop floor, and less time on sale, and how to send the excitement on the runway into the hands of the customer, faster. The old model, showing spring clothes in fall and fall clothes in spring, has started to seem hoary.
“Our customers, they don’t really understand seasons,” Wang said. They just want to shop in digital time.
Wang took the occasion of this show — not a spring, fall or resort collection (though it will appear in stores from the end of September through March, when the resort collections do) — to debut a new logo and a new identity for his brand: alexanderwang. It is all one word, lowercase, the way it appears on a web address: sleek, aerodynamic, at digital speed.
That’s the medium. The message, he said backstage after the show, was “immigrant Americana.” He had taken a road trip with his parents, sister and brother for the first time in 20 years, and asked his parents, who emigrated to the United States in 1972 without speaking English, about their coming-to-America story.
“I had never asked them before,” he said. So he mixed in bits of their culture and heritage — in touches of chinoiserie, mainly — to the American pop culture that is his own: football, rock music, motorcycle culture, punk. Leather, studs, car-grille belts. Axl Rose bandannas with snapback cap closures and American flags. Short skirts, big shoulders. On the soundtrack, Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino: “This Is America.”
This is Wang’s America, a ready-to-wear melting pot. But for all of the political subtext, it still felt more than anything like Wang as we’ve known him, on fashion week or off: short, sexy, speedy.
“I wanted to force myself to come into a new era,” Wang said. But America wasn’t reborn overnight.