Alexander Wang's boyish bonhomie has gone a long way in buttering up whatever naysayers there may have been following his Balenciaga appointment, but more than anything it's the designer's appetite for innovation that's getting noticed. It can't be overlooked the degree of subtle ingenuity Wang has been able to pull off—both in his eponymous New York line and for Balenciaga. His new men's Spring collection for the French house continues in this vein with its bold array of materials, shapes, silhouettes, and reinventions—the kind he's been working on in women's, many of them clever updates of the founder's signature works from nearly a century ago.

Resurrecting the Cocoon look and rendering its rounded shoulders in silk is no easy feat. Even something as (deceptively) simple as Wang's suede tee for Balenciaga, with its snap buttons, is a small marvel of engineering, as are several waterproof Mackintoshes (made so by way of internal taping up of seams), sculptural double-knit cotton tops with grosgrain trim, and jackets with laser-cut gussets in back. Same goes for paper-thin bonded lambskin shorts, a tuxedo jacket with a coated taffeta lapel, and trousers ergonomically cut from a patchwork of skins—they don't shout their artistry from the mountaintops. Colors were kept to a strict palette of naval shades, and prints were all but eschewed, a decision many major houses prefer so as to better focus on a more impressive technical prowess. Essentially, what Wang is doing is creating a men's legacy at Balenciaga where none existed before.