Alexander Wang the brand turned 10 years old in 2015, and the 31-year-old designer who built it (after dropping out of Parsons to do so) celebrated the milestone by looking back to the very beginning — and by putting on one hell of a birthday bash.
In his early seasons, Wang built a dedicated following among model-off-duty types and industry insiders who were drawn to his unfussy, street wear-inspired designs that included slouchy knits, sporty separates, destroyed denim and lots of leather. His creations may not have been the most innovative, but they were of-the-moment, genuine and, perhaps most importantly, covetable — not only the clothing itself, but the downtown cool attitude it exuded.
That "It" factor has remained over the years, as has Wang's focus on making clothing that will resonate with his core customer. For spring 2016, he kept this in mind and threw it back to where it all began, sending models — both men and women for the first time — down the runway looking like they had walked in right off the street, mussy hair and all. Many of the pieces are similar to those you'd see on any given day wandering the Lower East Side: oversized army jackets, cutoff denim shorts, athletic mesh tanks and silk pajama shirts, styled with sneakers, baseball caps and heavy duty metal chains repurposed as jewelry. Perennial Wang staples like sweats, slip dresses and leather jackets and pants were also in large supply, which is sure to please the fans who came to the designer for those things in the first place.
After the collection walked, giant LED screens that spanned the width of the runway displayed a bass-heavy reel of the brand's history at hyper speed. To see clips of a baby-faced Wang in between flashes of all that he's accomplished over the past 10 years was exhilarating — and this feeling only grew when the designer took his signature running bow, as cannons of confetti exploded from the rafters.
In true Wang fashion, the party that immediately followed was one for the books. A curtain opened to reveal raised platforms with pole dancers, "Wang 10" ice sculptures that doubled as shot luges, Hooters girls carrying trays of late-night snacks and a VIP section that housed the designer's celebrity friends like Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Nicki Minaj and Zoë Kravitz. An increasingly sloshed Wang took the stage a number of times throughout the event to thank his guests and to introduce his surprise performers: Tinashe, ASAP Rocky, ASAP Ferg, Lil' Wayne and Ludacris. The aforementioned film included a voice-over of the designer saying, "It's not worth it if you're not having fun and you don't get to enjoy it." And you'd be hard-pressed to find someone in fashion who can show you a better time than Wang can.
The coming seasons will likely prove to be crucial for Wang and his company: He recently announced that he would not be renewing his contract with Balenciaga in order to completely focus on his own brand, which is rumored to be seeking outside investment. But on Saturday night, the designer didn't seem preoccupied with what the future holds. Instead, he celebrated all that he and his team have built from the ground up with a sincere gratitude and pride. If the joyful bash and self-assured spring collection are any indication of what the next decade of Alexander Wang will bring, we're looking forward to what lies ahead.