What Alexander Wang’s Rogue Sidewalk Runway Says About Fashion Right Now

Alexander Wang surprised Nolita crowds with his guerilla SS18 show, then bused the whole thing to Brooklyn and showed it to editors an hour later

09.10.17

Alexander Wang, the man notorious for his coveted ticketed events in far-away-from-the-rest-of-the-scene places, surprised lucky Nolita pedestrians who happened to be in Nolita around 9 p.m. on the third night of fashion week with a guerilla runway show.

Had this been been a movie, we would have watched two scenes play out in tag-team-tandem: One, a surprise party of models delighting and confusing a mix of lucky (or for all I know, apathetic) pedestrians who happened upon this moment. The other, grumpy editors texting one another about how bad the Nolita traffic is and how they fear they may not make it to Bushwick for Alexander Wang in time.

Fashion loves to be ironic, remember?

Alexander Wang Spring/Summer ’18

Wang’s actual Spring 2018 collection was not. The second showing was set between desolate Brooklyn warehouses where we leaned up against metal barricades. It was standing room only for all guests, including Kim Kardashian, who stood across the way from me. As a kind gesture, we were offered In-n-Out burgers. As for the clothes, they were exactly as you would expect.

That’s not insult; just yesterday I wrote that I am in support of finessing what you know. Click through the slideshow and you will see various renderings of what Wang does best: deconstructed lingerie and daily-wear (denim, shirting, Adidas tracksuit jackets, blazers) pieced back together with elements like rhinestones, leather and a few errant plumes of feather. All the shoes were clear and gave their models this great bare Barbie-foot effect.

You couldn’t see the interesting details from where I stood, like how one pair of corporate-fabric trousers must have actually been a jumpsuit stripped down and tied at the waist. You couldn’t tell that the white jacket on model Sohyun Jung was made of tweed and something your dad’s mom would approve of. It didn’t matter that these looks ran by you in an impossible-to-capture-by-iPhone flash. The internet exists, remember.

Most interesting was the crowd: a sea of hypebeast Wang fans who came here for the hashtag, the scene, the Snapchat and Instagram stories. I am 99.9% positive — will update if wrong — that Anna Wintour was not in attendance. In fact, I didn’t see much or any of the senior tenured crowd. Perhaps they caught the surprise in Nolita and saw what they needed. I stood among many of the editors I’ve “grown up” with in this industry, all of us between 28 and early-30s now, our grade (if this were high school) split between those were still in it for the afterparty — Cardi B performed; Ashanti and Ja Rule reunited for “Always on Time,” there was food, drinks and confetti, so I get the appeal — and those of us (hi, zzz) who were tired and more excited about bed.

Alexander Wang Spring/Summer ’18

Mostly, even more so than sleep, I spent the whole time thinking about how Wang showed the public his collection first, “the industry” second. If the key to New York Fashion Week is to embrace its mass appeal and commercial nature, this is how you do it — and other mass, commercial brands already have! — so it’s interesting that it’s been embraced by the once-exclusive Wang. Maybe it was a one-off gimmick. Everyone is trying something new, trying to solve our industry’s weird, unsettled feeling. A handful of U.S. designers have left New York. A couple of brands that dipped their toes in other cities have come back this season. A few designers who tried intimate presentations last season are doing “normal” shows again; a few formerly public-friendly designers are now opting for the smaller, private approach.

Fashion is going through its Saturn Return. It is in the same phase so many of us tail-end-of-twenty/just-turned-30-year-olds are: confused, in-transition, feeling too old to be confused and in-transition, antsy for answers that won’t seem to come and more acutely aware than ever before of all the glaring things that need to change — but as of yet, with very little solutions. And so fashion is doing as we are all doing: Throwing wads of wet paper towels at the ceiling and hoping it sticks, waiting for a spark and enjoying the party in the meantime. It’s a Saturday night, for heaven’s sake.

Runway photos via Vogue Runway. Feature image by Thomas Concordia via Getty Images. 

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  • Dymond Moore

    This is one of the very reasons I look forward to the Wang show each year, even if the looks themselves aren’t my favorite. The artistry is unparalleled.

  • tmm16

    Ugh I feel like I’m in the minority but I loved the presentation and most of the collection. I also liked the spontaneous showing to the public before the fashion community. It was something different, so you have to applaud his PR team for that.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Absolutely – I think it’s cool they showed it to the public first, why not? If we can all review it online anway (seriously, I saw the clothes Better online that in person – 100% not always the case but it was with this show) then why wouldn’t you just make it open?

    • Alison

      You are the majority in this post. Alexander Wang ’18 quorum.

    • Val

      I applaud none of these coked out weirdos who simple have no taste and are recycling fashion these days from the 80s early 90s now. No new ideas nothing original. The fashion industry has really become a laughing joke.

  • eganmay

    everyone who streamed it got potato quality man.

    • Amelia Diamond

      someone asked me while i was trying to live stream it from mr “are you filming this with a potato.” i was not, but how cool would that have been?! (anyway i switched to MR IG stories, much more clear)

  • Isabel

    Ok can we talk about Kaia Gerber’s strut during this show?? I love that she’s bringing major attitude to the runway.

  • Maggie Lanham

    I know this was a runway review, but man, did this hit home for me:

    “It is in the same phase so many of us tail-end-of-twenty/just-turned-30-year-olds are: confused, in-transition, feeling too old to be confused and in-transition, antsy for answers that won’t seem to come and more acutely aware than ever before of all the glaring things that need to change — but as of yet, with very little solutions.”

    Preach, Amelia, preach.

    • Amelia Diamond

      i’m writiing something on this!

  • Val

    Boy do I miss the 80s when we let no one dictate what we wore. Who the hell cared about a fashion designer. They actually got their design ideas from the kids on the street back then because we dictated as we were individual and unique in the 80s.