Alexander Wang

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Creative Director, ALEXANDER WANG

Born: December 26, 1983 Nationality: American Lives: New York Education: Parons School of Design (briefly - dropped out)

Only a decade into his career and no longer New York’s enfant terrible, Alexander Wang continues to enjoy a seemingly inexhaustible level of popular acclaim thanks to his unique ability to cultivate downtown ‘cool’ for a global tribe of loyal followers. Raised in San Francisco, Wang’s much-storied ascent to the throne of celebrated (and celebrity) designer began after he dropped out of Parsons School of Design in 2004, his sophomore year, aged 18.

After a slew of internships with Marc Jacobs, Teen Vogue, Vogue and Derek Lam and with the assistance of his sister-in-law, Wang launched his eponymous label the following year with six pieces of unisex, cashmere knitwear. The intarsia sweaters, emblazoned on the backs with images of Wang’s signature cool girls, immediately struck a nerve with at least sixty buyers at a designer trade show. After two showroom seasons that saw an expansion in his oeuvre into cashmere coats and sweater dresses, Wang made his first foray into ready-to-wear with a runway debut for Autumn/Winter 2007 at New York Fashion Week. The vision Wang presented for his deshabille downtown ‘It-Girl’ triggered a groundswell movement of support from the upper echelons of the fashion industry.

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Final looks at Alexander Wang's Spring/Summer 2016 show at New York Fashion Week
CREDIT: NOWFASHION
Family, too. remained integral to that vision. Wang’s brother Dennis joined the business as the label’s chief principle officer and continues to operate as its chief financial officer. His label co-founder and sister-in-law Aimie worked as CEO until 2010, when Wang appointed LVMH alumni Rodrigo Bazan Chief Executive of the company. Wang’s mother is also involved in the business, as is his niece, Aila, who plays a part as the brand’s diminutive front row fixture and prime street style fodder in miniaturised versions of Wang’s crocodile shifts or slogan tees.

In 2008, 24-year-old Wang claimed top honours from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. The opportunity granted him $200,000, along with invaluable exposure and (most notably) ardent fans in the form of Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg. The latter famously approached Wang with an offer of employment after seeing an editor wearing one of his first sweaters. Wang declined without reservations, and Von Furstenberg would eventually become his mentor as part of his CFDA prize.

That same year, Wang launched a handbag collection, which was soon followed in 2009 by a diffusion line, T by Alexander Wang – a slightly more affordable offering of luxury cotton basics that breached the divide between Wang’s street and high fashion aspirations.  

"His slight stature, appetite for nightlife and predilection for sweatshirts belies a maturity, commercial sensitivity and a wealth of creativity well beyond his years – one that has given rise to a global following and shows no sign of abating as he enters his second decade as America’s chief arbiter of ‘model-off-duty’ chic."
Wang’s CFDA success was the first of many accolades enjoyed at the outset of his career. In 2009, he would also claim the CFDA’s peer awarded Swarovski Womenswear Designer of the Year award and the Swiss Textiles Award. In 2010, he was awarded another Swarovski Designer of the Year Award for his work in accessories. The following year, Wang launched T by Alexander Wang menswear, followed by his first men’s ready-to-wear offering – a feat that earned him Best Menswear Designer at the behest of GQ.

In February 2011, Wang opened his first flagship store in SoHo, New York, followed soon after by the launch of a Beijing flagship in April of that year. Wang’s continued expansion –particularly in the East – has contributed to the proliferation of his namesake label throughout over 700 of the world’s most prestigious retailers. Wang has since continued his expansion into phenomenally successful accessories, footwear and lifestyle products (including bean bags and surfboards produced with Australian manufacturer Haydenshapes). In November 2014, a sell-out sportswear line released in conjunction with Swedish high street retailer H&M received rave reviews.

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Details from Wang's hedonistic Autumn/Winter 2016 show at New York Fashion Week
CREDIT: NOWFASHION
In recognition of his tremendous influence, Wang was appointed the successor to Nicolas Ghesquière as Creative Director of Balenciaga in November 2012. Despite mounting scepticism that Wang could ever only hope to fill the shoes left vacant by the critically adored Ghesquière, the American designer oversaw the house’s men’s, women’s and accessories lines to favourable reviews for a fruitful albeit, brief tenure, lasting until July 2015, when it was announced that Wang and Balenciaga’s parent company Kering had amicably decided not to renew the designer’s contract. Wang showed his final collection for the storied house in October 2015.

Known as much for his accessible brand of modern luxury as he is for his bacchanalian after parties and coterie of enviable friends, Alexander Wang remains unerring in his trajectory as one of fashion’s most exciting designers – one whose ambitions guarantee he won’t know how it feels to be ‘off-duty’ any time soon.

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Alexander Wang takes a bow at the end of his Spring/Summer 2016 show, which marked his first decade in the industry in typical Wang fashion
CREDIT: NOWFASHION