Alexander Wang presented his collection for H&M on Thursday night at the Armory on the Hudson — an indoor track and field space in Harlem — which seems only fitting for a designer who always opts for an energetic victory lap instead of a bow after his seasonal runway shows. Guests were given branded foam boxing gloves as they took their seats in the bleachers, and focus first turned to a scoreboard on the ceiling, where the collaboration's campaign video made its global debut.
The film begins with a video game-like "choose your player" sequence, and we see Natasha Poly, Joan Smalls, Isabeli Fontana and other models show off their impressive athleticism throughout, performing acrobatic stunts, kickboxing and racing snowmobiles to a bass-heavy soundtrack. As soon as the clip ended, the game came to life, with performers repelling from the ceiling onto a multi-level set, complete with trampolines, ramps and parallel bars — the perfect setup to showcase their strength and serious gymnastic abilities. But that was just the opening act.
Models (who were certainly cast based on their level of fitness) stepped onto the track through a smoke-filled door, in slightly more stylized versions of the looks we've been teased with over the past few weeks. Wang has explained ad nauseam that his H&M collection is all about performance, and activewear in the form of seamless knitted leggings and tops, neoprene sweats, utilitarian, water-resistant coats and reflective mesh separates took center stage.
The looks were accessorized with plenty of sporty objects, including boxing gloves (which are available for purchase in the collection), hockey sticks, catcher's masks, footballs and goggles. As an interesting aspect of the beauty look, models were "tattooed" with black muscle tape. When the show came to a close, Wang did his signature run around the stadium as cannons shot confetti into the air, and the crowd bolted to the pop-up shop — which was modeled after a locker room — to score a piece of the action.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Wang explained that the initial inspiration for his collection was "sports at night" — you sweat when you go out dancing, and his H&M collection is just as appropriate for a workout as it is for a night in the club. In order to play up the latter, the designer invited '90s hip-hop legend Missy Elliott to perform her greatest hits to the crowd, followed by a DJ set by Diplo. In keeping with the "ball game" spirit, full-sized hot dogs and bottles of ice cold beer were passed around on the dance floor.
As the crowd thinned out, the designer climbed atop the DJ booth wielding a t-shirt gun, armed with mesh jerseys that read "Team Wang." After a night like that, there's no wonder why his is a team that everyone is clamoring to join.