CFDA winner Alexander Wang celebrates his new Soho flagship store with American
Express in an exclusive card member-only shopping event
Google 103 Grand Street and you’ll still see Yohji Yamamoto USA Inc on Grand and
Mercer in New York City’s Soho area. But since February 17th, that prime high-end locale
has belonged to the new prince of downtown fashion: Alexander Wang.
Since winning the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) 2008 Fashion Fund
Award, which came with a generous $200,000 cash prize to help upstart what would soon
become a sky-rocketing empire in the making, it seems the Wang star is more than just
rising – it’s got its own gravitational pull.
Just days before the opening of his store, when FedEx trucks were still unloading
cartloads of boxes on Grand Street, GQ named Wang their 4th winner of the Menswear of
the Year Award for his t-shirt line – T by Alexander Wang, at a celebratory party at the Ace
Hotel. If winning every fashion award under the sun and opening the flagship store of your
dreams wasn’t enough, March 1st marked the relaunch of AlexanderWang.com, which
features not only the fresh and kinetic spring 2011 campaign video shot by Craig McDean,
but introduces e-commerce capability, where both his ready-to-wear and t-shirt sister
brand will be available to purchase online.
Such sequence of events certainly merits a good party, so Alexander Wang and American
Express joined forces to host an exclusive card member-only shopping event to celebrate
the designer’s new flagship Soho store. Amidst trays of Belvedere Vodka, champagne
and Spice Market sandwiches, shoppers perused the designer’s spring/summer 2011
collection that hung in the peripheral racks in the front of the store and in the back of the
luxe space, the accessories, which ranged from handbags, shoes and eyewear.
By Alexander Patino
Wang gets to the ink of things and signs an autograph for an adoring fan and client in his new flagship store
Cause for Celebration
And creating a whole experience has quickly stood out as one of Wang’s fortes. His shows encompass
tailor-made moods – from the elevation of the casual in his designs to edgy song selection (he personally
selected the party soundtrack of the night) - Wang is constantly working to fit the pieces, facet by facet, of a
total Wang universe.
And he’s far from done. Adding to the line-up of projects on Wang’s fashion takeover docket is the debut of
his fall 2011 ready-to-wear Menswear collection, with men’s accessories geared to debut for spring 2012.
At first, he feared a rushed expansion. But after a little GQ Award reassurance –it was time to plow ahead.
“I think it’s just part of being a designer,” replied Wang to fears of the next step. “You have to constantly push
yourself to try new things. I definitely believe in the next challenge. When you’re building a brand – creatively
or businesswise – you have to keep at building a consistent DNA. That’s really what all the great masters
like a Ralph Lauren or a Giorgio Armani do. You have to let in new techniques, fabrications, silhouettes,
colors, ideas and prospects.” Although, he admits it’s not always smooth sailing. Even fashion’s new
golden boy battles bouts of designer’s block. “I would be lying if I said that inspiration came on the spot,”
said Wang. “There are times when everything you sketch and everything you drape just doesn’t work.
Inspiration is not something you can force. It comes or it doesn’t.”
Inspiration surely didn’t betray Wang last year, for he’s just recently been nominated for both Womenswear Designer of the Year, alongside Marc Jacobs and Jack McCollough and Lazaro
Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, as well as the Swarovski Award for Menswear, where he’ll go up against Phillip Lim and Robert Geller. The winners will be announced at the annual
gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall on June 6th, but win or lose, something tells us Wang will be all smiles regardless. “I’m always honored by any kind of recognition,” Wang blushed.
“Especially when it’s coming from my peers.”
The feel was veritably downtown-y. A good mix of hipster sensibility, with model types lounging in the store’s much talked about fox-fur hammock and stylish fans taking advantage of the
$50 credit applied to purchases of $200 or more. Wang was working the crowd with his effervescent good-time smile, signing handbags with his trusty Sharpie pen for some lucky
shoppers. The flagship store was designed with Wang’s own New York apartment in mind, which should account for why the designer looked so at home throughout the entire soiree,
playing the perfect host. So does the finished product match his overall vision? “So much and more,” said Wang, taking a break from the festivities. “I just wanted something that felt like a
second home to me. Somewhere I could invite friends and people that I have a connection to. It was more about an experience than about strictly doing retail for me.”
(Left to Right) The San Francisco native greets a friend, poses with Q+A's Associate Editor Alexander Patino, cuddles with his precious niece Aila Wang and shares a cocktail with a fan at the AMEX-hosted party
Photos by Wendy Ploger