After announcing his decision in January to opt out of the official New York Fashion Week schedule, instead choosing to show his collections in June and December, Alexander Wang, a name synonymous with the effortless, downtown, “cool girl” street style, took a major change in direction for his final February show.Just a few floors up from the former longtime home of Vogue in the bustling 4 Times Square building, Wang abandoned his usual shady, oversized, casual garments, modeled by nocturnal “party girls” for powerful looks suited for the 9-5 corporate women of the future. In what was in many ways a look to the future of female domination in the workforce, the designer drew heavy inspiration from the past, taking cues from 80’s silhouettes, 90’s beauty, and Matrix attitudes. The collection was predominantly colorless, except for a few bursts of hot pink and navy. Wang stayed loyal to his heavy use of zippers and daring lengths whilst elevating the looks to workwear with sophisticated tailoring and simple accessories. The collection was in one word sleek, showcasing bold padded shoulders and form-flattering cuts in Wang’s usual black—the perfect uniform for any seasoned New Yorker.
While the evening saw mostly simple hair and makeup looks, including “modern CEO”-inspired chromatic nude nails and matte grey-brown smokey eyes, it was Wang muse EZ, whose career skyrocketed at the designer’s Fall/Winter 2017 presentation exactly one year ago, who truly stole the show. 2017 was seemingly the year of blonde buzzcuts, with everyone from Cara Delevigne to Kate Hudson flaunting the hairstyle; therefore, colorist Josh Wood deemed the need for a new style to reign over the new year. He noted, “I think red is the color right now, it’s the one everybody wants,” and with that, dyed the hair that launched a thousand Instagrams. As Seoul-born EZ made her way down the runway in a simple black leather miniskirt, and a shapely, white top, power heels, and spacey sunglasses, all eyes turned to her penny-red, gelled back locks, proving that even as Wang makes a leap into the world of corporate fashion, he refuses to sacrifice his fresh perspective.
Wang notably brought back a trend that was all but sealed in 80’s and 90’s oblivion: the banana clip. After pulling the Kaia Gerber-led clan of models’ hair back into clean twists and securing it with the oversized, silver, “Alexander Wang” stamped clips, hairstylist Guido Palau explained, “it’s a cool way to put your hair up and not feel too lady,” a sentiment that mimicked the collection’s theme exactly. In addition to launching various clothing and accessory trends over his career, Wang’s runway shows have often featured somewhat off-kilter or passé beauty looks, such as the mullets that memorably topped his Fall 2017 collection, that have awarded the designer a distinct ability to sway the mainstream beauty needle to his liking. In other words, run to the drugstore, ladies (and gents)—the banana clip is officially back and in a big way.
Of course, it can be left solely to Alexander Wang to not only make a statement on the runway but also in the front row. In what was a heavily photographed and later tweeted moment, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour returned to the hallways of the old Condé Nast building to find a surprising neighbor and fellow front-row regular in Cardi B. As the two met and chatted, it served as a reminder of the ever-intertwined worlds of fashion and pop culture, the stark difference in their outfit choices—Wintour’s traditional, floral garb and Cardi’s thigh-high leather boots and headress—only further enforcing the industry’s, and the brand’s, versatility.
Wang appears to be following his most loyal customers as they go from nocturnal twenty-somethings to sophisticated professionals, keeping his signature “cool” factor closely in tow. Only time will tell if his many devotees will embrace the designer’s radical changes or push for a return to the Wang style they know and love.
Written by Gabby Shacknai
Visuals by Olga Sorokina
Photos by Thitaree Siriprayong