디자이너들이 쉽사리 포기하기 힘든 두가지가 있다: 미래 트렌드를 예측하는 것과, 길거리의 생기발랄함을 재현하려고 하는것. 이 두가지는 위험한 시도와 노력이된다.
미래는 결코 기대하는대로 되는 법이 없다. 예전의 Pierre Cardin의 남성복이 네루수상 목칼라 스타일 자켓이나 Rudi Gernreich의 대담한 topless 수영복과 조화를 이룬것이, daringly progressive라고 불렸다가 이제는 미치광이의 공상과학 소설처럼 보이는 것처럼.
그러나, 이 걸출한 젊은 디자이너들(Alexander Wang, rag & bone, Prabal Gurung, and Joseph Altuzarra)이 지난 9월 토요일에 Fashion Week에 보여준 것은, 미래예측과 길거리 패션을 완전히 정복했다고 말하기 어렵더라도, 최소한 이것들을 잘 manage해서 비겼다고 할수 있을 것이다.
Since launching his womenswear line in 2007, capturing street life is precisely what Alexander Wang has been able to do. He made his mark by creating clothes that, as he put it, women want to wear. They were not fanciful or ostentatiously designed. But they captured the insouciance of a young woman who knows she is beautiful, popular, and cool and so is freed from the pressure to primp and to preen. Wang exploited the “model-off-duty” look — slim jeans, blousy T-shirts, tomboy jackets. His could also be described as “walk of shame” style — so perfectly disheveled and rumpled that one could almost smell the stale beer and cigarettes.
Wang coupled this nonchalant aesthetic with an impish, devil-may-care spirit. His after-parties became as hot a ticket as his fashion shows. His skills and reputation proved irresistible to the Paris-based Balenciaga when it went in search of a new designer in 2012.
So here sits Wang: part of the French fashion establishment and at the helm of a New York business with a global reach that has reported revenue in the tens of millions of dollars. He has a lot to lose, and his influence is substantial. In recent seasons, his namesake collection has been more polished and refined – a bit safer, a bit more adult. It still offers a nod to the street, but those streets are just as likely to be in a suburban cul-de-sac as in the heart of a tough city.
Nonetheless, Wang’s posture remains subversive: His settings are dark and spare, his music is aggressive.
For spring 2014, that delicate balance is played for effect. On one hand, he offered dainty pleated gray mini-dresses, a prim gray knit cardigan with subtle burn-out patterns of argyle, and fancy shorts and windbreakers in a techno tweed. On the other hand, he crafted leather pullovers with his name spelled out in row after row of laser cut-outs. Pleated skirts had wide waistbands embroidered with his name, and elbow-length gloves were carved with the word WANG. Through today’s fashion lens, it looked like the kind of merchandise peddled by one of New York’s corner barkers to unsuspecting tourists visiting from Podunk. But it was also reminiscent of the bawdy logo gear favored by rappers back in the day.
Perhaps the branded pieces were meant to be ironic. Perhaps they were intended to remind Wang’s audience that despite his rise in the industry, he remains edgy, cool, and fun. The music certainly made a pitch for a good party, enviable youth, and the pleasures of giving the finger to propriety. As the first model hit the runway, the speakers blared Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says,” with its lumbering, pounding bassline and its aggressive call to “Get the F--- Up!”
But then just as you might have been ready to jump up and swagger, along would come some nicely tailored gray trousers with a wide white cummerbund waist and a little pleated cropped tank top — all prissy and sanitized. And a voice inside your head yelled, “What are you thinking, Taylor Swift? Sit the heck down!”
The show was like a 15-minute awkward meditation on the definition of cool by a designer who must figure out how to maintain that ineffable magic as he becomes increasingly corporate. Wang is no longer a rising star; he is a star. In some ways, his trajectory is reminiscent of Marc Jacobs’s, who also went from being the coolest wise guy in the room to an executive in the heart of corporate Paris. Jacobs’s terribly, unapologetically late-starting shows seemed to represent an unwillingness to lose his edge.
And then, for fall 2008, his show began a mere seventeen minutes late. (Now, he has been known to start early.) The collection, with shawl-colored coats and draped trousers, was grown-up and inspired by something as simple – and as complicated – as life. Today, Jacobs’s clothes are still progressive, surprising, and youthful. But they are not street cool; they are better than that.
The street can be as powerful as jet fuel for designers. But at some point, managing the resulting success means losing some of that early raucous freedom and transforming one’s aesthetic into something more sustainable. The struggle for Wang lies in minimizing the loss and finding the substance behind the attitude.
Marcus Wainwright and David Neville are not so much hipsters in the style of Wang as they are ex-patriot British rogues. Their best clothes reflect masculine tailoring, biker cool, and girl-power confidence. But the rag & bone collection they put on the runway for spring lacked the sure-footedness that always made their models look as though they knew how to handle themselves even in the most unsavory parts of town.
For spring, Wainwright and Neville gave their audience drop-waist dresses, oversized tennis sweaters, loose-fitting trousers, and shades of turquoise and coral that looked more suitable for a suburban garden party than the urban streets.
Adding to the confusion were unflattering styling tricks. Indeed, one had to wonder if the models had collectively committed some terrible sin that inspired the hair and makeup teams to seek revenge. Their hair was lacquered to the scalp and looked like an oily mop that hadn’t been washed in weeks. And their lips were painted a bright coral that practically glowed under the spotlights, and seemed to precede the rest of their faces down the runway by several feet.
The styling is not what the designers are selling, but it’s part of the story. They are the important details that authenticate the main message. And in this case, the main message was such a mish-mash, it’s no wonder the details went awry.