Paris Loves Alexander Wang
The French tend to be several degrees on the snobby side when it comes to American fashion. Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adam Kimmel, and resident Rick Owens pass muster, but for the rest, there’s a certain chill factor. Which is why the Paris buzz on Alexander Wang, 27, is so unusual.
Wang’s sleek, body-conscious, athletically metropolitan chic has been an item at the Printemps since Maria Luisa Poumaillou became the French department store’s in-house fashion editor, with her own eponymous shop-in-shop in the middle of the store’s designer second floor in 2009. Since then, Wang has proven to be more than a flash in the pan. Printemps will open a mega-corner (420 square feet!) for the American designer in early November, which puts him just a whisper away from Dries and Miu Miu. Not bad for a young designer who launched in 2007.
Paolo de Cesare, Printemps CEO, and Maria Luisa Poumaillou convened a lunch with Wang in one of the store’s René Binet-designed coupoles. The luxurious nook with curved walls covered by an Art Nouveau mural was packed to capacity. Garance Doré, Purple‘s Olivier Zahm, Le Figaro‘s Virginie Mouzat, jeweler Gaia Repossi, Tine Peduzzi from TL-180, and Wang’s Parisian pals nibbled on truffle risotto and took in Printemps’s cool, gray view across Paris from on high.
Is Wang about to take the reigns at Christian Dior? He’s not confirming or denying the sizzling rumor that tout Paris was whispering post-Fashion Week.
“That’s the question of the day, ” he says with a long laugh. “I would never say never. If the right opportunity came, where I felt that there was something to say that I couldn’t say in my own brand that inspired me, then yes. But right now I’m focused on growing and evolving mine.”
We don’t imagine that the growing process will take too long. One thing that differentiates Wang from other young designers is speed. He opened his first shop in New York last March and also saw his debut men’s collection hit stores. Wang’s next move is China. His second store will open early next year in Sanlitun Village, in Beijing’s Chaoyang District.
“I fell in love with the space on a trip there last year,” says Wang. “It’s a great location next to I.T Beijing Market (Comme des Garçons’ four-level Dover Street outpost, which opened last December) and Balenciaga. I never imagined Beijing would be our second location, but it feels right. We’re not starting in London, or Paris. This has a lot to say about what China has to offer.”
When in Paris, Wang says he roams the streets, likes to get lost, and gets by with a few words in French, but he does know where to stay: on avenue Foch at the Paris home of Danielle Steel, the mother of his childhood friend, fellow San Franciscan Victoria Traina. And although he says he doesn’t “scout French women per se,” Wang does admit he is attracted to them.
“French women dress in an effortless way. I mean, their approach isn’t so much based on fashion and mega brands. They’re more resourceful. They’re into vintage, non-label, high-street things. There’s a genuine authenticity here. “
A month after his Spring 2012 show, Wang was still waiting for his first day off. “That’s tomorrow. I’m taking four days and I’m going to Lisbon. I’ve never been there before, and I wanted to go somewhere where I know absolutely nobody. I’m going to the beach.”