It’s Alexander Wang’s world, we fashion enthusiasts just live in it.
Last night, at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund gala, 24 year old Wang won the top prize, a victory that awards him the cool sum of $200,000 and a year’s worth of mentoring. Wang’s closest competition, Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai of Vena Cava came in second, as did Albertus Q. Swanepoel of Albertus Quartus. Both runners up will each receive $50,000 and a business mentor.
This news – the latest propitious development in Wang’s professional trajectory – comes as a confident reaffirmation rather than pleasant shock to anyone who eyeballed him as a “designer to watch” a few years ago.
In that window of time, Wang’s profile has skyrocketed into ubiquity. Once a small label primarily favored by Manhattan hipsters and art students, his is now a global brand with a lo-fi trademark aesthetic that is redefining youthful luxury in the late 2000’s.
Like all designers who create clothing people actually are excited to wear, Alexander Wang suffuses his wares with a je ne sais quoi which conjures up a specific cast (Erin Wasson et al), philosophy (“off-duty model”), time (definitely now), and location (the immortal appeal of downtown NYC). The last American designer who effectively championed clothing’s context over its literal qualities to reflect what the art of “dressing” meant for an entire generation became an icon. His name was Marc Jacobs.
The sky may be the limit for where Wang goes from here, but his feet remain firmly planted on the ground. In January, his affordable basics line, T by Alexander Wang, hits stores. Cautiously, he continues to expand his brand: his Spring 2009 line incorporated shoes, and he recently announced he will partner with Shu Uemura for an upcoming makeup line. But with economic pragmatism in mind, he has promised not to do anything “too out there” for his upcoming Fall 2009 collection.