Alexander Wang's tenure at Balenciaga has so far been marked by his interest in the lesser-known corners of Cristobal Balenciaga's archive. Yes, the very name Balenciaga conjures up couture shapes and volume, and that heritage is name-checked, as it were, in the rounded shape of a roll-neck sweater or a drop-shouldered coat. But it's the more curious bits of vintage B that seem to tickle Wang. First there was the metal maillon clasp that he has made his signature at the house (it appeared here as part of the closures on a toggled duffel). Now there is Cracknyl, a synthetic imitation leather Balenciaga developed at the house in the late forties. Wang cut it into a two-button blazer, shown beneath a puffer jacket, and used it for a duffel coat.
The world may or may not have been waiting for the return of Cracknyl, with its plastic feel and Hefty bag sheen. But its inclusion is at least testament to a disposition that says "why not" before "why." Why not make that puffer coat in parachute silk? Why not suggest a sporty popover in heavy satin as the new evening jacket? (From a distance, the satin looked more leatherlike than the Cracknyl). Why not include a zipper snaking around the lapels and neckline of a double-breasted jacket, which opens wide enough for a scarf to snake through?
As usual, the collection was rounded out by evergreens that raise no questions at all: Leather jackets, including an especially streamlined version in elephant gray; sharp-shouldered suiting; and a cool double-breasted formal coat tweaked every so slightly by the outsize addition of grosgrain on its lapels.