Alexander Wang Essay
December 7, 2012
An American in Paris, Again
By ERIC WILSON
ALEXANDER WANG may be the savviest designer of his generation.
At 28, he is the rising star who built a global multimillion-dollar business in less than a decade, opened his own stores in New York and Beijing and, last week, landed a plum job at a prestigious label in Paris, when he was named the creative director of Balenciaga. Some see Mr. Wang’s appointment as symbolic of the triumph of youth; others see the demise of fashion.
“It was a coup for Alex, and a coup for American fashion,” said Diane von Furstenberg. But, …show more content…
“Oh, please, come on,” she said. “How great is it to be young? That is when designers are at their most fearless. That is when you do your most creative work.”
When Mr. Ghesquière was named chief designer there, in 1997, he was just 25.
ON Nov. 5, in a major surprise, Balenciaga announced that Mr. Ghesquière was leaving. His vision for the house, combining a reverence for the archives of Cristóbal Balenciaga with high-tech fabric treatments and elements inspired by science fiction, was so transformative that Style.com/Print recently described it as “the standard by which other big house revivals are judged.” The business grew to include 62 stores and, Mr. Pinault said, sales have expanded substantially since it was acquired by Gucci Group (as PPR was formerly known) in 2001. But Balenciaga is an expensive business to operate.
There were demands for more commercial styles and reissues of his earlier designs, leading to what retailers described as a confusing assortment in the stores, and, according to several colleagues of Mr. Ghesquière, the designer’s frustration.
Isabelle Guichot, the chief executive of Balenciaga since 2007, said in a telephone interview on
Thursday that the role of a designer in today’s industry demands a quality that she called “creative realism.” Last month, when the company began a search for its next designer, there was a short list of candidates. Christopher Kane, the