The cool kids are not always the popular kids. What constitutes popularity can depend on high school locations (in some towns a higher premium is placed on baseball than lacrosse; the step team can rank higher, socially, than the cheer squad). But just as the fashion industry hasn’t changed in well over a decade — and, per Tim Gunn in his take down of the tunnel vision of straight sizes: “Consider the fashion show: It hasn’t changed in more than a century” — high-school hierarchy hasn’t shifted much either. Which means this still has to ring true: The Alexander Wang kids who walked his Spring ’17 runway are not being crowned King and Queen of prom anytime soon. They are cutting class in the morning to surf or be sketchy under the bleachers, and ditching fifth period to ride BMX bikes in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. They roll their eyes at wearable tokens of conformity.
Of course, what’s always cool in fashion — especially in Alexander Wang’s world — is youth.
Wang held his show late at night, as he often does. Though the call is “only” for 9 p.m. (get a grip, eyelids), it’s a tricky time on a Saturday for anyone who has a family, a young baby, life responsibilities that were paused for a day of shows, a partner wondering when you’re coming home, or who’s simply tired. The location wasn’t in New Jersey, but it wasn’t convenient. The deliberateness of all of this is in no way a middle finger to anyone who feels they’ve grown out of “The Scene,” but it is Alexander Wang’s way of reminding us that he, too, is young. Still. He is young, his clothes are young, his customers are young, his fans are young.
And man does he celebrate this. At the afterparty: McDonald’s, Slurpees, racks of corner-store candy — how is your metabolism doing this evening? — and cans of spray paint to tag tin RVs without any supervision. No parents, no rules!
When it comes to design, however, Alexander Wang does have rules. Number 1: The designs must fit as though sliced from fabric for each specific model. Number 2: The models don’t have to be identical twins, but they must look Of a Crew. From the same pack. (He had Guido Palau bleach their hair.) Number 3: When removed from the runway and separated from the very smart, what-should-I-try-tomorrow styling, the clothes need to sell instantly. And they need to stay in one’s closet for a fair while. They need to give the buyer reason to not toss neon out once the novelty has faded.
Number 4: Reference his own past seasons. (This time it was Spring 2014.) This keeps the story consistent. It makes his zigzags feel familiar.
For all sorts of different youth, including his own, Wang is a little bit nostalgic.
Number 5: Reference streetwear in some way. For Spring ’17 it was the streets of…I’m putting words in his mouth, but, ’90s Venice Beach-meets-Bay Area suburb with a 650 area code in the year 2003. I once went to a BMX race out there with a friend who was into all of that and Wang’s show was it. The hoodies, the thick white stitching on dark denim, the girls in daytime lingerie (such a thing in 2003, with the black lace) fringed moccasins and the Spitfire-esque flame print. It wasn’t my specific youth, but it was peripheral enough. I remember this: cool then, cool now — in the right hands.
Alexander Wang is America’s equivalent of Saint Laurent circa Hedi Slimane’s still-recent reign. The difference is that Alexander Wang is the New York fashion scene’s most popular guy in school. Everyone wants to come to his party. No one will scoff at the hole-y jeans or bra tops, no one will ask where the consideration of a storied house has gone, not even during the post-show finale where he announced a collaboration with Adidas, where he turned the Adidas logo upside down and on its head. That’s because the storied house is all his. His, and Alexander Wang’s cool kids.
Photographs via Vogue Runway and Getty Images.