Alexander Wang presented his first-ever Resort collection for Balenciaga in New York on Wednesday, and it was a modest progression from his Fall/Winter 2013 collection for the house. Most creative directors of the major Parisian houses—such as Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy and Phoebe Philo from Céline—cross the Atlantic to offer their take on the season to the American press. Wang, however, is on home turf.
The CFDA winner’s own eponymous line, with its dark palette, street cred, and sportswear influence, has become synonymous with the city —a uniform of sorts for the unquestionably cool and die-hard fashion followers alike. When it came to his resort collection for Balenciaga, however, New York City was far from his mind. Instead, the 29-year-old and his team took a research trip to the Basque region in Spain, visiting the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in the seaside town of Getaria, Balenciaga’s birthplace. The museum, which has an extensive archive, houses many pieces not found in the central Balenciaga archive in Paris. One example that Wang worked with for Resort was a shoulder construction technique called the pont (bridge), which is when one panel of fabric stretches across the shoulder from sleeve to sleeve.
This season, Wang (who most humbly respected the house codes last season) worked with draping, origami details, bell sleeves, and petal-shaped skirts—all of which are also part of the Balenciaga DNA. The bolero jacket also featured in the collection, only Wang added his own touch and created something that was between a bolero and a bra top. A bralero, perhaps? This twist, along with masculine cropped pants and racer-back details on dresses, were a nod to his own roots, as was the mostly monochromatic color palette.
Resort can often be a colorful affair, and while the prints (which had charming names like “scramble and “noise”) were interesting—especially when styled together—the only color in sight was a dress and a suit in vert de gris, a sort of pale green-gray tone. There was still a lightness to the clothes, though, and an ease to the construction and fit. The coast of Spain inspired some summery sentiments in Wang: hot pants and fabulous vinyl, fringed sandals and hats.
It’s still early in Wang’s tenure at the house (this is only his second season), and he hasn’t yet wowed the industry like his predecessor Nicolas Ghesquière did. But this was once again a considered offering—one that will likely have the selling power that the New Yorker comprehends all too well.