There is no one in fashion under more pressure right now than Alexander Wang, who debuted his second collection for Balenciaga a week ago, with Anna Wintour, M.I.A., Salma Hayek and more sitting front row.
Fortunately for Kering, the luxury conglomerate that owns Balenciaga, there is also no one else in fashion who is as self-assured as Alexander Wang. So the pressure doesn't seem to be getting to him.
With his second major collection for the house, Wang pushed its traditional codes in a sportier, more youthful direction. The opening looks—skirt suits, made from leather that was hand-braided on a form—took sculptural cues from the house's archives, but were given modern hardware details and colors (mint green and soft coral). He even used that extraordinary braided leather on a pair of running shorts, elevating the common shape higher than any of the other designers who made them this season.
Even the easier pieces had a certain structure to them. A black cape, for instance, was corseted on the inside to make sure it moved a certain way on the body. And a shift dress had a curvy silhouette that pointedly sat away from the body.
Wang brought back his hit petal trousers in black and white, tweaking them just a bit from last season. He also used a petal shape on a series of pleated skirts and off-the-shoulder tops made out of a lightweight raw silk, which were rendered a bit more formal with the addition of graphic sequins.
It was a confident effort. Yet it was still restrained enough to leave the audience wanting more. Wang's work is incredibly calculated, and he'll surely drill down to the heart of his vision even further come Fall 2014.
Click through to see the runway shots.