With the gaze of the world on him Thursday, Alexander Wang followed in Raf Simons’ footsteps and showed his critics that a minimalist young streetwear designer can breathe life into one of Paris’s most venerable couture houses. The collection of classic, tailored pieces has received a warm welcome, with the New York Times proclaiming that Balenciaga is, “in good hands.”
As the models stepped out onto a cracked marble runway, it may well have been a metaphor for the way Wang has lightly woven his individual aesthetic into the design house, which after 15 under the direction of Nicolas Ghesquiere was at something of a cross roads. If Wang hasn’t made a drastic turn, he has taken a confident first step in right direction.
The 29-year-old American designer presented a highly polished collection that clearly referenced the label’s history yet never seemed retro. Taking the typical Balenciaga mono-chrome colour scheme and strong silhouette, Wang added patches of fur and asymmetric lines for a sharp, futuristic look that can fairly be described as a modern classic.
Wang has long been one of my favourite designers thanks to his ability to create grungy minimalist pieces that still retain a certain femininity, at a price point that young women can actually realistically afford (check out his pieces on The Outnet for some bargains). By placing him at the helm of Balenciaga, PPR have made a clever business decision by anticipating that he can bring that certain wearability to the house. The dresses, tops, trousers and skirts showed clean lines and a determined precision, that retained that couture elegance but are sure to appeal to a much wider audience: attracting a hoard of younger women to become loyal fans and hopefully for PPR, customers.