Alexander Wang: The Right Choice For Balenciaga?

New Balenciaga Creative Director Alexander Wang

A month after industry favourite Nicholas Ghesquière shockingly revealed he was parting ways from Balenciaga (after an impressive 15 year tenure) , 28 year old New York based wunderkind Alexander Wang has been hailed the iconic French label’s new Creative Director - a decision that’s been met with much critical indignation from the fashion community. Wang, who’s set to take over responsibility for Balenciaga’s Menswear, Womenswear and accessories line certainly has some massive (and stylish) shoes to fill.

Wang started his eponymous line back in 2007 after dropping out of the Parsons School of Art and Design. His edgy, androgynous aesthetic is hugely popular with fashion editors and industry insiders, yet questions have been raised as to whether or not he will be able to keep up with Balenciaga’s painstakingly technical and elegant heritage.

An original Cristobal Balenciaga design from the house's early days

It seems that this particular decision is somewhat of a point of contention amongst fashion connoisseurs the world over; Financial Time’s Vanessa Friedman described the move as ‘sacrilegious’. Bloggers and fanatics of the fashion ether are up in arms and can’t seem to come to a happy agreement, so we thought that we might as well weigh in with our two cents too. Here’s why we think it’s a great idea…

1. His Youth

It’s been contended that Wang is too young and inexperienced to take on such a renowned fashion house. But one appointment in particular that mirrors this selection is that of his predecessor Nicholas Ghesquière, who was even younger than Wang (25) and a total unknown when appointed to take the reins at Balenciaga. Ghesquière was a surprise choice but fifteen years on he is credited with bringing a dormant fashion house back from the brink, taking it to unprecedented heights.

An original Cristobal Balenciaga design from the house's early days

2. He fits the brand aesthetic

Balenciaga has always been synonymous with innovation and structure whilst Wang is best known for his signature slouchy tees. But if you take a look at both their most recent collections, they have a number of striking similarities. Balenciaga is a little more formal yet both feature a clean-cut but edgy modern look.

A Nicholas Ghesquière design for Balenciaga A/W 12

Balenciaga has undoubtedly been moving towards a more youthful feel over the last few years with bold graphics and the use of unusual materials like neoprene. Ghesquière transformed Balenciaga into a modern luxury brand but let’s not forget Wang’s superhuman ability to make a marl jersey T-shirt look high end.

So whilst Wang’s label might differ stylistically, his clear cut vision is something that makes for an ideal partnership with a brand looking to move into a more commercial market.

Alexander Wang A/W 12

3. He could bring mass appeal to Balenciaga

Commercial success might come as ghastly thought for Balenciaga-philes (maybe because it suggests parent company PPR is hoping to make the label slightly less elitist) but the fact they’ve chosen Wang signifies they want to take the house in a new direction. And Wang has an incredibly strong brand image, not to mention the fact that he’d made a turnover of $25million by the time he was just 25. He has become a global success in just five years, with an unrivalled sense of business acumen and an understanding of what it takes to build a powerful identity.

Alexander Wang A/W 12

Incredibly popular with the off duty model and city socialites alike, Wang’s collections essentially corner the market in ‘ Downtown Cool’, but we’re all just going to have to wait with bated breath for his debut show in March to see how well he can juggle the demands of two fashion houses and what direction he will take Balenciaga. We wish him the best of luck!

by Lucinda Bounsall

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