"I am deeply honoured to embark on this new role for a brand and a house that I have such great admiration and respect for." - Alexander Wang
It was certainly no coincidence that I spent most of my weekend wearing my black mohair Balenciaga coat whilst feeding my addiction to the Alexander Wang SS13 soundtrack as I was walking the streets of London.
Yesterday, Alexander Wang was appointed by PPR as the Creative Director of the house of Balenciaga. Wang is the first American designer to enter the highest ranks of Parisian fashion since Marc Jacobs was appointed as Louis Vuitton's creative director in 1997. More importantly, Wang is the first designer of Asian descent to do so.
For years, Alexander Wang has imprinted an aesthetic for his brand which centres around sportswear details and a wide use of fabrications to promote luxury with a rock'n'roll edge. Since the launch of Alexander Wang in 2007, the brand has cultivated international status shipping worldwide to more than 50 countries. Alongside his new duties at Balenciaga, Alexander Wang will continue his activities with his eponymous label in New York.
Wang takes over from Nicolas Ghesquière, who exited Balenciaga last month after 15 years of restoring the house's reputation and establishing an elegant and futuristic DNA for the house. Ghesquière is regarded as the most influential designer of his particular generation and his revival of Balenciaga has become the standard which other big house revivals are judged from.
Unlike Ghesquière, Wang doesn't face the tough task of reviving a fashion house which was once so out of esteem that it left some of the great Cristóbal Balenciaga's gowns to perish in the flooded basement of 10 Avenue George V after his death in 1972. Thanks to Ghesquière, Balenciaga is relevant for the new generation, but Wang faces the tough task of stepping into Ghesquière shoes, who has established his own legacy for Balenciaga. It is hard to predict what Wang will bring to the Balenciaga DNA, but many believe that he is the 'commercial choice’ and his cosmopolitan vision of design will help exude sales for PPR. Balenciaga's rapid expansion in China in recent years will also benefit from the fact that Wang speaks fluent Mandarin.
I am in agreement with Karl Lagerfeld who said that Wang is the 'best man' for Balenciaga. It will be interesting to see how another New York-based designer manages to transform a Parisian fashion house, and whether he chooses to fuse Ghesquière's DNA with his own, or develop a new DNA entirely. I hope Wang manages a parallel growth between his eponymous label and Balenciaga; avoiding a symbiosis between the two, which seems to be happening between Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.
Without Ghesquière, Alexander Wang for Balenciaga seems to me the perfect cocktail.