New York Fashion Week: Alexander Wang spring/summer 2011
Wang, the 'tough guy' of New York, has gone soft with a colourful, 'cyber-fairy' style collection for next season
A 50ft clear plastic 'inflatable' hovered over the cavernous white space at Pier 94 down on the West Side Highway, where Alexander Wang staged his spring/summer 2011 show. It was the clearest indication of his brave new world.
"Light, optimistic, pale colours, dropping hems down to the floor, my first real prints. It's even romantic," he conceded, backstage before the show.
"I wanted to move away from that hard, tough, aggressive, urban mood I've become known for. So there's no black, not even a hint of black."
I scanned the mood board - and he was right! Startlingly, and thrillingly, Wang, the tough guy of NY, has gone soft on us. It was a brilliant and unexpected swing.
As M.I.A and her husband, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Margherita Missoni, and Erin Wasson watched from the front row, Wang's new fashion poetry floated down the catwalk in a haze of white, cream and pretty pastels, occasionally shot with flashes of turquoise, terracotta, copper and silver aluminium and foil.
The effect was something of a cyber-fairy, or a space-age boho en route to a festival in the stars - but oh so beautiful. And dreamy. The silhouette was long and loose - and to the ankle, as Wang had promised. Dungaree-strap maxi dresses in fine silk, over simple T's; loose, bias-seamed, T-dresses with lopsided sleeves slipping off one shoulder, occasionally with a shorter, but square-cut muslin-mesh jacket tossed over the top, or cuffed track-pants underneath.
Sheer shirts in gauze or silk had detached sleeves, exposing the upper arms, V-neck silk dresses had seams opened at the back or sides, occasionally with an opened zip to show neat sporty vests and sports-knickers underneath. Quilted vests, baggy silky shorts worn over tight stretch cycle shorts or longer cuffed leggings echoed the sporting references of fencing and football that Wang has used in the past, together with patchwork quilted, mesh and cotton judo jackets, sleeveless and sleeved, with swing backs, worn with high, wide trousers, cropped and ankle-length.
Loose, easy, knitted tops and sashed, long cardigans, with added to the feeling of casual, ease. The print was a splashy, pale series of splatters and squiggles - "like a girl wakes up and starts doodling," Wang had explained - and echoed the streaks of clay in the models' hair, which was then shaped into two wings stretching from a tight knot.
The print came on cotton, mesh and muslin anoraks and more of the long, loose bag-like dresses in satin and silk, with loosely-sashed robe coats, and deconstructed, trench coat-dresses creating an almost 1920s boudoir silhouette, especially on Karen Elson. The clothes were accessorised with pastel shoe boots, stacked, laced-up and with an open toe and open heel, and the bags were square and boxy with copper.