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New York Fashion Week: Wang, Siriano & More

by Jocelyn Noveck, Nicole Evatt
Monday Sep 11, 2017
Kaia Gerber models the first look at the Alexander Wang Spring 2018 fashion show held on a street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Kaia Gerber models the first look at the Alexander Wang Spring 2018 fashion show held on a street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.   (Source:AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

The fourth day of Fashion Week saw Alexander Wang close off a dead-end street in Brooklyn to present his latest collection, an ode to New York and a new look at some of his signature stylistic elements. Christian Siriano offered up what he called a "psychedelic dream garden" of wild colors and whimsical prints, and a diverse runway in terms of shape, size, and gender.

ALEXANDER WANG: A FASHION SHOW GROWS IN BROOKLYN
By the time the big bus arrived at Scott Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn late Saturday night, the crowd had been waiting for an hour or more behind metal barriers in the street, rows of people jockeying for a decent view, some even perching on garbage dumpsters. It wasn't a good night to be claustrophobic. Or short.

When the bus doors opened, some of Alexander Wang's favorite models from over the years stepped out and strutted down the dead-end street. They didn't do a customary finale, and the entire thing lasted five minutes.

Wang has chosen unusual locations for his runway shows before; in 2014, he held one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a frigid February night, setting up some major traffic jams that were recounted on Twitter, with one person comparing it (unfavorably) to New Jersey's Bridgegate. The weather was fine on Saturday, but there was some frustration for those who didn't get to see the models very well.

But you can't say the venue wasn't evocative - and different. Wang explained afterward that he was going for a sort of thank-you tour of New York locales that were significant to him. Before arriving in Brooklyn, the bus of models had made two other stops in downtown Manhattan, performing the show for the public.


The Alexander Wang Spring 2018 collection is modeled on a street in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn during New York Fashion Week, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

"This was really about giving back to New York," said the designer, who spent three years splitting his time between New York and Paris when he was creative director at Balenciaga until 2015, and has said it was liberating to be back in New York fulltime. At a moment, he said, when some are questioning the role of New York in fashion - a number of labels have moved their shows to Paris - he wanted to emphasize his love for the city.

"The great thing about New York is that it enables you to do whatever you wish, if you want to, to break free a little and do something different," he said. "It's not rigid, it's not formulaic."

After a number of collections in which he tried new and different techniques, Wang said his focus this time was going back to the basics, and finding new reasons to fall in love with them.

"Sometimes the audience isn't ready to move so fast," he said. "People may want something new, but what they are comfortable with, what they react to, what feels immediate, is things that have been around for a very long time - like denim, sweats, cargo pants, sportswear. So I wanted to take those things and give you a new reason to fall in love with it."

An example, he said, was taking a white T-shirt dress and twisting it, adding a bit of embellishment, or taking a men's trouser and tying it with a leather cummerbund. "Or taking a dress and layering it three times, so it's one-stop shopping," he added.

One whimsical theme was the use of extra sleeves everywhere, especially around the waist, for a sash-like effect over trousers or skirts. Jackets, seemingly cut in half, turned into skirts. There were also cutoff jean short shorts over tight leather pants.

Wang said he'd had fun turning back to elements like zippers and studs, and exploring them in new ways. A pair of leather pants had one entire leg covered with studs. Several pairs of trousers had extra zippers in intriguing places.

There were also references to Wang's collaboration with Adidas, as in an athletic jacket with extra sleeves as a belt, emblazoned with the familiar three stripes.

And there were party headpieces, designed by expert milliner Stephen Jones. One, worn by model Kendall Jenner, said "Wangover." (Jenner's half-sister, Kim Kardashian, was on hand to watch the show, with her mother, Kris Jenner.)

"I wanted this collection to be about optimism, playfulness," Wang said. "You go into your closet and just play dress-up. Maybe you don't know where to go or what to do, but putting on the clothes and styling yourself inspires you to do something."


A model walks the runway during the Christian Siriano Spring 2018 fashion show during New York Fashion Week, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WILD COLORS, INFECTIOUS MOOD AT CHRISTIAN SIRIANO
"Work it!" shouted actress Leslie Jones from her front-row seat, as a model strutted by in a revealing number. "I want that!" she called out after inspecting another seductive garment.

For a fashion show, it was an infectious and joyful atmosphere, enhanced by the obvious commitment to diversity of all types on the runway: size, color and gender.

Before the show, as models rushed to get dressed and ready, Siriano mused that with all that's going on in the world, "as designers this is our moment to have our voice, to put out there what we feel. So that's why we're really showcasing diversity - we have transgender, we have curvy, we have tall - we have the whole world of women and people, and they can all be beautiful in the same place, in the same moment. And it feels good.

"The show is 13 minutes," he added. "I want to really take everyone out of what's happening and go into a dreamlike place."

In fact, he said, a good name for his show would be a "psychedelic dream garden."

"It's like seeing plants come to life in a way," he said. "I really just wanted it to be kind of romantic and beautiful." He added that he and his design team had used much more bright color than usual, and also patterns upon patterns, and new textures. "We never do that," he said. "We're going for it today."

The crowd seemed to respond. Siriano's colors included a bright sunflower, an even brighter grass green, and, brighter still, hibiscus pink - otherwise known as shocking pink - in a column dress and in a one-shouldered, ruffled jumpsuit.

Ruffles were huge - metaphorically and literally. A few models chose to emphasize the flounce by stopping mid-runway and cavorting a bit before continuing their walks. They included supermodel Coco Rocha, who opened the show in electric floral brocade, and closed it in a black orchid flounce gown.

Jones, a big fan of the designer ever since he stepped up to dress her for the "Ghostbusters" premiere last year, gushed about him before the show.

"I love him because he knows how to dress me and make me look so beautiful," Jones said. "He's so normal, he's so down to earth and he does love all women."

Jones said she was proud of her recent birthday: She turned 50. "I need everybody to know that when you get to this age, it doesn't have to be a death sentence," she said with a laugh.

Also sitting in the front row were actresses Gina Gershon, Vanessa Williams and Patricia Clarkson, and rapper Cardi B, whom Siriano dressed for the MTV Video Music Awards.

"I feel like crying for him," Cardi B said, "because I know he's so happy and he's such a good, genuine person. He took his time for my VMA outfits and I got almost in every press (outlet), like best dressed, and I'm so happy that this is happening to him."

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