Earlier in the week, Alexander Wang told the media that a key word to describe his fall 2014 collection, which walked at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Navy Yard on Saturday night, was “survival.”
With so many people worried about getting to such a far-flung location, this theme was playing out well before show even started. Gridlock traffic was lined up for what seemed like miles, and some brave editors even hopped out of their cars into the freezing cold to climb the snow piles in the parking lot, for fear of missing something good.
Inside, the energy had a similarly anxious, foreboding feel. A square stage sat in the center under black lights, with a frame of metal air ducts constructed like a maze atop. Strobe lights flashed and the booming sounds of a thunderstorm played over the speakers, and when the lights came up (and the bassy soundtrack started), a model marched out in a gray checked pullover, replete with myriad compartments sewn onto the front (presumably to stash anything and everything you’d ever need to navigate harsh conditions). There were thigh-high waders, too.
At first I thought, “Camping trip gone very awry?” as several girls appeared in similar iterations of what you imagine a naturist might wear for a sojourn from which they weren’t sure they were coming back. I mean, there were fanny packs and over-the-shoulder bags festooned with carabiners and water jugs. But as more and more girls appeared, it became clear that this was about making it in an urban setting — a city-slicker twist through Wang’s trademark lens of cool.
The aforementioned utilitarian pockets were put on sharply cut wool coats, rendered in navy and rust, as well as a sleek shift and a very cool-looking jumpsuit cut above the knee. Next, oversized anoraks in bright blue and neon yellow emerged, as did chunky sweaters, featuring puffy overlays in the same bright shades (paired with paisley embossed leather miniskirts).
The outerwear was the star of the show. Exaggerated puffer coats — my favorite in a shocking cobalt — trimmed in shearling were the perfect answer to the weather we’re having now, as in, what to put on when you’re bone cold but don’t want to look frumpy. A slick black parka featuring a mountainscape in green and purple was simply awesome. However, the suede pieces didn’t look as covetable, such as gray number with a Flintstone-like jagged hem.
Cozy-looking sweater dresses furthered the outdoors-y sentiment, but again, made modern with zippers running up the front against accents of fluorescent green and hazard orange. Other interesting pieces: the black mesh pullovers featuring zigzag prints in the same shocking and sporty colors popping up throughout the collection, as well loose drawstring pants that looked rain-slicked.
Next came what everyone was waiting for — the spectacle finale that Wang has become somewhat known for. The lights went dark, the music stopped and all you could hear was the sound of a heart-rate monitor (were these fashion campers going to make it?). When the spotlights came back on, and the bassy music buzzed back in, models — including Anne V and Bridget Hall — had gathered in a circle, taking a strong, defiant stance facing the audience. A hidden platform on the stage began to revolve at intervals, and everyone “oohed” and “aahed.” The clothes during this segment seemed like a departure from the collection, mostly boldly hued laser-cut separates with a Western vibe (complete with heeled cowboy-looking boots that had slits down the back, exposing the leg).
After a full rotation, the platform just kept on spinning as the final walk commenced, with girls trudging in the opposite direction of the inner circle. The whole thing was dizzying but also electrifying (I’m a sucker for a fashion stunt), and Instagrammers were going crazy.
After that, it was back to the pandemonium of trying to get home — editors stranded in the cold, frantically calling for cars, others running to one of the house-supplied buses or the ferry. Though about an hour later, most attendees tweeted about how excited they were about having made it back to the city, that they had indeed survived.