At this point you would have to be trying your hardest to miss what’s the biggest news in the fashion world right now! Alexander Wang has been all but confirmed as the new lead designer for Balenciaga. While the last name thrown around was Christopher Kane, those rumors were quickly dispelled by the designers representatives, and since that point, everyone has been on the edge about what other name would pop up in the rumor mill. When news of Wang’s appointment came up, it seem expected that this would also turn out to be mere rumor. Without a word from Balenciaga or Wang’s team saying otherwise, every major fashion news source has confirmed that this info was true.
Alexander Wang has been on the rise ever since his first collection. A semi-alumnus of Parsons (he dropped out his second year and launched his first collection soon after), Wang has been a star in the New York fashion scene ever since his first collection. His minimal aesthetic and dark palette have perfectly suited the current generation of socialite, celebrities, and performers in NYC. Wang’s achievement is what every designer dreams of. His brand has quickly expanded with commercial success beyond ready to wear since his diffusion line T by Alexander Wang formed with shoe and bag lines following after. This appointment seems to confirm his status as a rising star, taking the reigns from arguably one of the most respected design houses for its creativity and innovation in ready to wear clothing.
However, one consistent worry from many fashion enthusiasts is: will Wang’s sporty street chic aesthetic be a good fit for the french born high luxury brand?
It’s helpful to look at Nicholas Guesquiere’s legacy at Balenciaga in this scenario, because his and Wang’s appointment are actually quite similar. Gheusqiere was a surprise choice to take the reigns of Balenciaga in 1997 at only 25, and at that point, he was a a total unknown that was appointed to revive the house in light of what had been a considerable string of bad shows and a decline in the brands reputation. His own beginnings were rocky — his designs were met with great critical acclaim but their profitability were not good for PPR (Balenciaga’s owning company).
By the early 2000′s, his status as master of silhouette and innovation was set with Suzy Menkes commenting in 2001,
“Nicolas Ghesquière is the most intriguing and original designer of his generation. His collections are explorations of shape, volume, and embellishment that seem totally new—yet reflect in a glancing, abstract way the style of the iconic design house that shelters him.”
Nicholas’ future is still in question with no announcement of his plans, whether it will be a new line bearing his own name or if he’ll take over another house. However, considering his legacy and status in the industry, there’s no doubt that we can expect to see something quite soon from the designer. The legacy that Nicholas is leaving behind at Balenciaga is immense and Wang certainly has his work cut out for him in regards to proving that he can match the creativity sustained at the house. This appointment comes in a long line of fashion world shake ups with Raf Simons being appointed head designer at Dior early this year and Hedi Slimane taking over at Yves Saint Laurent (Saint Laurent Paris now) months later. The fashion world is seeing a lot of changes right now, and for better or worse, houses with long established legacies are going to go through big changes. This leaves some in tears with their favorite designers cast aside (I’m still praying Stefano Pilati comes back to womenswear), but this is also a more than exciting time. It is a huge turning point for three of the most well known houses in fashion! Regardless of your opinion of the designers, what’s happening right now is fashion history, and I cant say that I’m not excited to see new clothes appear on the runway, regardless of who designs them.
Credits: Written by Marcus Cuffie/Dustulator. Images courtesy of firstview, thirdlooks, papermag, and superiorpics.