NEW YORK - The designer Alexander Wang is known for his love of a good party, and so it was a bit of wry humor that his show invitation clearly stated: "No After Party." (That was also the theme of a capsule collection landing on his website Sunday.) But there was really no need for a post-show kegger to prove that he still had the capacity to hang with the most determined party animals.
The louche thrill of an after party is firmly embedded in Wang's work and his brand's identity. The show is the party. The clothes are the costuming. They are instilled with the intoxicated, cotton-headed aftermath of a crazy night out.
But just as Wang's clothes have a level of sophistication that puts them well outside the genre of throwaway club gear, his declaration is more than a throwaway line. Read another way, "No After Party" also feels a bit like a warning. There is no second chance, no do-over. So seize the moment. Otherwise, the lights come up, the music is silenced. Done.
As always, Wang does his best to make his clothes feel organic, unsanitized, relevant. For his fall 2017 presentation, he took his audience up to the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem and into a beautiful but decrepit abandoned theater, its crumbling plasterwork visible through the haze of trucked-in spotlights. The walls of the lobby were covered in black plastic tarp, and kegs of Peroni beer were stacked high. Waiters stood in formation with pre-filled plastic cups ready for the grabbing.
There was no seating for the audience. The front row was a mosh pit pressed up against an elevated catwalk. Off in a corner, a DJ (Metro Boomin) played a preshow set and the audience bobbed to Migos's "Bad and Boujee."
Who will wear Wang's clothes? Where can you wear his clothes? What inspires them? The answers were all here, in this room, in Harlem, with this music pounding and the smell of beer perfuming the air.
His models came stomping down the runway in tight, skinny black trousers, oversize blazers with accomplished tailoring, miniskirts with fluted, flamenco hems and catsuits.
The catsuit. It's like a tight fitting jumpsuit. An early version of athleisure gear. The ultimate in aerodynamic dressing. It is easy and fast. Unforgiving and cool. It feels like a relic of the 1990s but feels futuristic, too.
It evokes androgyny, while being body-conscious. It's freeing, but it also looks like a uniform. Simple, but complicated. There is "No After Party." There's only now.