"He dragged us all out to Brooklyn on a wintry Saturday night—it had damn well better be good," was the thought on our minds as we waited half an hour past go time for the outer-borough-averse to find their seats. The setting was Duggal Greenhouse, a new event space in the Navy Yard, the Web site of which advertises the latest in "solar energy, organic air purification, and eco-friendly building practices." Aside from the fact that it was—Shock! Horror!—in Brooklyn, it was an apt setting for a conceptual collection about pounding the New York pavement. "Extreme conditions and survival," were the designer's talking points at a preview. There were references to hunting, mountain climbing, and other outdoor sports, but the clothes, as is typical for Alexander Wang, who joked that he goes to the gym "at least once a month," were resolutely urban.
Making it in the big city requires two things: a great coat and walking boots. Wang had both. Outerwear was the show's strongest category, and there were a lot of persuasive options, from suede down puffers to shearlings to silk Windbreakers with jacquards of mountain scenes at the hem. A strong sartorial element—shades of Wall Street, the heartbeat of the city—wove through the collection as well, via suiting pullovers, leather shirt-collar dickeys, and silk cravats. As for the snap pockets that decorated the front of efficiently cut checked shifts, they were designed to house Moleskine notebooks, smartphones, lighters, and lipsticks—not bait and tackle.
The lights went down and a dozen more models walked out, taking their places around the edge of the runway. As the circle started and stopped, the heat-activated leather clothes on the models stationed in front of the set's metal vents changed colors—from black to blue or yellow or purple—then slowly faded as they rotated away.
That clever, high-tech finale sealed the deal: The show was just about worth the price of admission. That is, until we were confronted with the extreme urban conditions of an epic town-car traffic snarl on the way out of the Navy Yard. Escape from Brooklyn! We would've been better off hoofing it, like one of Wang's over-the-knee-boot-wearing survivalists.