Alexander Wang is something of an anomaly. As the interview by Diane von Furstenberg makes plain, he’s a much-loved designer in his native USA and with an increasing global presence. Yet, Alexander Wang is somewhat under the radar in the UK. This is perhaps unusual. Given the Anglophone culture and historic ties –that ‘special relationship’- that traditionally connects the USA and Britain, it’s not often the case that a young American designer will achieve international recognition in Europe before (or at least simultaneous to) gaining a following in the UK. But, the likeable Mr Wang has, to some extent, bypassed the island and headed straight into the bijou stockists of Europe, the East and Middle East.
And? Well, for one thing, Alexander Wang’s sexy, urbane clothing with strong connections to the comfortable and relaxed aesthetics of youth culture and streetwear would seem to be right up the British high-street. Despite numerous differences, what the young professional women of New York and London need in their wardrobe is not really that different. Alexander Wang’s shapes offer exactly the kind of balance between sexy chic and comfortable pragmatism that make a lot of young urbanites very happy.
If the interview does not actually answer the question of why Mr Wang has not yet mapped his American success onto the pavements of London, whilst already making strong inroads in other cities around the world, then it additionally provides useful food for thought for those living in the UK. Why can’t we readily get our hands on his clothes here? What are the buyers thinking?
More than that, it provides a pleasing portrait of a young designer working hard at his craft and seemingly free of many of the delusions and pretensions that have become synonymous with the world of high fashion. Running as a tight family business, we are offered the possibility of the high-profile designer as a return to grassroots cottage industry; a kind of Microsoft in fabric possibility being developing into a global concern in a garage.
Part of the delight of the interview is that it is by Diane von Furstenberg. Recent years have seen the elder stateswoman of New York fashion once again recapture the international imagination in the way that she first did during New York’s heady days of Disco. In eagerly underscoring her place in the hierarchy she nonetheless pays Alexander Wang a great compliment: in starting her interview by focusing in print on how the fledgling Mr Wang rejected her offer of employment she effectively pays him a great compliment and subtly highlights her endorsement of his talent.
The interview is accompanied by Mikael Jansson’s sexy black and white photos, styled by Karl Templer. The heaving glamorous mosh pit of attractive youth reiterates the articles thrust: one of the reasons that America loves Alexander Wang is that he’s still a relaxed young man who hangs out with friends he made in college rather than the glitterati of the fashion world.