Following a few seasons at West Chelsea's Eyebeam Studio, Alexander Wang moved his show to Roseland Ballroom, a venue that's witnessed generations of cool kids, loud music, and smoky late nights. In other words: a hand-in-glove perfect fit for Wang's cool clothes, loud crowd, and smoking after-parties. Walking into the big ballroom—as packs of photographers flashed It chicks Jen Brill and Sophia Hesketh, and even some bona fide celebrities (Sarah Jessica Parker and Zoe Kravitz)—it felt like…2008.
Well, 2009 has been a surprisingly good year so far for Wang, who is, of course, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund's latest big winner (and who, intriguingly, had British retail tycoon Sir Philip Green in his audience today). "We're evolving," he said a couple days before the show, in his studio. "We're asking: What does growing up mean for our girl?" His answer included buzzwords like tailoring and luxury, but tailoring and luxury laced with a savage thread. We saw jackets with sleeves edged in cubed metal rivets, leathers fringed with foxtails, and a trench with beastly toscana sleeves and croc flaps. There was coordination to the hilt, with matching shoes, belts, and bags (he now has 40 styles of the latter, up from last season's five). Still, even with the matchy-matchy, the polish, and the new maturity, his models stomped down the runway with their accustomed—almost dangerous—sexiness.
There were shades of Montana and Mugler in that wild power babe. But Wang's vision is a singular one, and it clearly speaks to twentysomethings. If you think the pomp of a runway show like this one seems out of place in an era when others are scaling back, Wang actually does have his feet planted on terra firma: His great clothes and accessories are priced to sell. And this year? No after-party.