Alexander Wang is not your typical fashion designer. You won’t find him sipping tea at the plaza or hosting soirees at an upper eastside townhouse. You’ll probably find him in the middle of the dance floor at two in the morning somewhere in the meatpacking district or eating Chinese takeout with his siblings. It’s his strikingly anti-establishment persona that makes him a standout among his fashion colleagues. Hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alina Cho (Editor at Large, Ballantine Bantam Dell) sat down with Wang to discuss his childhood, his early years at Parson, his rise to fame, and his time at Balenciaga. The fashion heavyweights were ushered in by none other than Andrew Bolton, head Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and star of The First Monday in May.
This event could easily be described as an evening of style. There was not a person in the Grace Rainy Rodgers Auditorium that I could honestly say belonged on a worst dressed list. As the women clamored to get a good look at the fashion icon, Snapchatting him as if their life depended on it, Wang himself seemed to embody everything that his attentive fans did not: Laidback, simplistic, demure, and slightly disheveled. Dressed entirely in black with his hair down and framing his face, it would not surprise me if he had come from his design studio or a breezy stroll in Central Park.
As the first string of questions began, questions like: At what age did you realize you wanted to work in fashion? What was your time at Parsons like? His demeanor seemed timid and his answers relayed a tinge of apprehension. Despite being a fashion prodigy, hailed by the likes of Anna Wintour, he still seemed humbled and slightly uneasy about being the center of attention. Every response was followed with a muffled giggle, what seemed to be a mechanism for coping with having all eyes on him. Ms. Cho did nothing to help the designer ease out of his introverted tendencies. She confronted him with questions about why he felt leaving Parsons was the right the choice and does he have regrets?
Source: The Couch Sessions
It was in these frankly intimidating questions that Wang transformed from bashful to assertive and we got a glimpse of what makes this designer a titan within his industry. Wang is not fearful and places experience above everything else. He was never destined to wear a cap and gown or receive a diploma in Lincoln Center or any other famous New York City landmark. This fashion prodigy was meant to struggle in his apartment, sketching, and plotting business strategy with his family. He even turned down an offer from Diane Von Furstenberg because he knew he needed to build his own brand. Wang’s tenacity existed within him long before Parsons and he never needed design school to make him great. He already was.
In 2008, Wang won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and permanently solidified his name into fashion history. Despite being twenty-five at the time, his understanding of business surpassed most. Wang’s secret to success lies in his ability to merge art and commerce. He understands the consumer and the market and works in accordance with the ever evolving economic and business climate. His knowledge of corporate strategy comes from experience and building his company from the ground up; no Parsons needed. Wang did it his way and created one of the most lucrative and successful brands in fashion.
Post Vogue Fashion Fund, Wang has gone on to partner with H&M as well as having a three-year stint as creative director at Balenciaga. Although there was speculation around his exit from the Parisian label, Wang puts those rumors to rest, remarking that it was time for him to go back to the brand that he created and finish what he started. For only being thirty-two years old, he has done what most aspiring fashion designers only dream of.
At the end of the evening, Wang regaled the audience, and Ms. Cho, with stories from the Met Ball. By the way, his table included Beyoncé and Madonna just to name a few. He shared tidbits from the night as if he were an average guy, plopped in the middle of a star-studded event. I can’t help but think that his success isn’t all business strategy, but rather a byproduct of his endearing, sensitive, and unpretentious attitude. In an industry that prides itself on exclusivity, Wang wants to invite everyone to the party. He wants to live life to the fullest and never succumb to the stereotypes of what a designer should be. Alexander Wang represents the future of fashion and I can’t wait to see what he does next!
Yours In Style,
Lauren Cecchi New York Team
post in : Alice Ross