Didn't he just get there?
It's never a good sign when your supposedly confidential contract renewal negotiations are breathlessly reported upon for weeks, and while there has been no official announcement, WWD is reporting that Alexander Wang (pictured at right) is already leaving his post as creative director at Balenciaga after barely three years at the fabled house. Wang was hired to replace Nicolas Ghesquiere who left abruptly in 2012 and now appears to be comfortably ensconced at Louis Vuitton.
While Wang's tenure at the house has been favorably but not rapturously received by critics and the press, business is said to have been good under the designer whose notoriety kept attention on the label after Ghesquiere's unceremonious exit. He has revamped the company's retail design templates, kept its important handbag and accessory business humming with new styles and even tweaked the logo. Unlike his predecessor, however, Wang's design approach at Balenciaga has been much more reverent of the style of the brand's namesake, offering a sleeker, more elegant fashion image often focused on a black and while color schemes, which has dismayed fashion watchers who were expecting more adventuresome looks. Ghesquiere revived the nearly dormant label by veering between collections that only occasionally paid tribute to the archives and ones that highlighted streetwear looks or innovative materials that looked to the future. His signature item, the motorcycle bag, is decidedly not a reference to the sculptural couture designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and yet it remains an important component of the accessory collection well over a decade after its introduction.
It is also thought that Wang's expected departure signals the designer's interest in focusing more on his own New York based label which continues to grow. The rumored move suggests that the paradigm of a star designer heading two big brands based on two different continents may be over as creative directors find the constant commuting exhausting and the corporately owned couture houses increasingly want designers who will focus all their creativity on one label. Designers like Christophe Lemaire and Marc Jacobs have both indicated a desire to consolidate their attention on their own labels as part of the reason for their leaving Hermès and Vuitton respectively. For its part, WWD is reporting that executives from Balenciaga and Kering, its parent company, are looking for a lesser known emerging designer who can be promoted to replace Wang and hopefully create the kind of excitement and press attention that Gucci designer Alessandro Michele has enjoyed since replacing Frida Giannini at the Kering-owned Gucci earlier this year —although the jury is still out on how customers will react to Gucci's dramatically changed fashion offerings. Wang's final collection for Balenciaga is said to be for Spring 2016 to be shown this fall in Paris. If there is to be a replacement announced, look for it to happen after Paris Fashion Week — if the company can keep it under wraps until then.
Didn't he just get there?
We are right at a pre-Holiday peak of Sample Sale activity, and this week brings one of the biggest of the season. Nor'easter or no, today should find a long line of eager shoppers waiting outside 151 Wooster Street for the ALEXANDER WANG Sale. Yesterday's VIP/Press preview was considerably calmer than the sale will probably be today when it opens to the public at 9 AM, but the same mindset applied: focused determination and a steely stay-out-of-my-way attitude. Some shoppers had a clear idea of what they wanted and got in and out quickly, while others took the opportunity to browse and rummage for the surprise find since the prices at the sale seemed actually lower than those of Wang's recent H&M collaboration that created such frenzy. Like most sales at 260SampleSale's SoHo location, the smaller front section was dedicated to both men's labels. Since they are still relatively small businesses for the designer, selections were limited, but there were some great outerwear pieces that will probably go fast by the end of today, a few select leather styles and bins of T by Wang T-shirts that appeared to have replenishments waiting underneath. A bit further back, the rest of the space was devoted to women with racks and racks of mostly black, white and gray sportswear and separates. The back wall was mostly reserved for an abundance of shoe styles for men and women ($150 per pair) and the opposite corner was devoted to a small handbag and accessory section. This was at once the most frenzied section, and the most controlled with sales staff holding whatever bags customers chose until they are ready to check out, so there is no hoarding of multiple items and dragging them around the sale. Have a look at some glimpses of the sale as well as most of the price lists in the gallery above. There's plenty more this week if Wang's urbane street style isn't quite your cup of tea:
On an entirely different stylistic note, TORY BURCH's big seasonal sale set to start today actually soft-opened yesterday at Clothingline, so those looking for something a little more genteel will have their own big shopping bonanza through Saturday.
For something a bit flashier, ALICE and OLIVIA will be filling up 260 Fifth Avenue today through Sunday with plenty of bold sportswear, dresses, shoes and accessories. Expect more lines here as the label has been speedily gaining traction at retail over the past few seasons.
It's not all about ladies this week. ISAIA will be clearing out samples and overstock of luxurious handmade Italian tailored clothing at 225 Fifth Avenue through Friday. Yesterday's preview turned out ot be something of a soft opening as the small space was swarmed with spiffily dressed gentlemen with sartoria on their minds selecting among racks of tasty suits and sportcoats. The elegant Neapolitan label is sharing the space with its younger sibling EIDOS and for those in need of something luxurious but a bit boring, there were a few basic suits from Daniel Cremieux's deluxe line. As with most labels like Isaia, even deeply discounted prices still routinely run over $1000 for suits and sportcoats, so expect to invest some funds. See a few views of the sale below.
Looking for something offbeat? If you have a hankering for gadgets and are willing to venture into the immense Starrett-Lehigh Building on 11th Avenue, then you have probably been secretly waiting for the OXO sample sale which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday. Find tables full of the handy household brand's cleaning, kitchen and other miscellaneous items. Prices start at only a few bucks, and the assortments include regular stock as well as samples and prototype items. Bring your own bag.
Also also starting on Wednesday the 10th, Cashmere specialists AMICALE will be opening its midtown showroom full of scarves, gloves and knitwear for three days just in time to start checking off your Holiday gift list.
For the Vintage-minded, one of the city's most esteemed thrift stores, The Society Boutique is Teaming up with the Fashion Institute of Technology for SEASON'S GREET-INKS, a four-day pop-up created and merchandised by students in FIT's Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design program from some of the Upper East Side's finest pre-owned designer clothing and accessories. All proceeds benefit The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Finally, just as Wang's blockbuster sale is shutting down, RALPH LAUREN will take over Soiffer Haskin's 33rd Street facility through Monday with his luxury Collection, Purple Label and Black Label lines for men and women including Clothing, Shoes and Accessories. It's a must for Lauren fans many of whom will be getting up early to stand in line one
And, of course that's not all. The city is awash in sample sales including hats from EUGENIA KIM, jewelry from JOHN HARDY, NOIR, TULESTE and GERARD YOSCA, updated men's heritage clothing from HASPEL, innerwear and lingerie from HANRO, ZINKE, SAMANTHA CHANG and EBERJEY and more other sales than we can even begin to include in a single post. See our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details and keep checking back for late-breaking sale information.
There are two late breaking sales you may want to make some time for in the next few days; one big and one small.
Let's start small.
Not to diminish designer MICHAEL BASTIAN's importance (he is after all a Shophound favorite), but his own signature collection is indeed a small, independent operation, and as such, his West Chelsea showroom at 210 11th Avenue will be open on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday offering samples and perhaps some overstock from his Fall 2014 collection and previous seasons. The discount can be counted on to be significant, but as Bastian's retail prices can be on the high side, think of your purchases as an investment in timeless style.
Now for the big.
After a day or two of rumors, ALEXANDER WANG is officially holding his first sample sale in a couple of seasons starting on Tuesday the 9th through Saturday the 13th at 151 Wooster Street in SoHo. Women's and Men's clothing and accessories from Fall 2013 through Spring 2014 are expected to be included as well as shoes. Will there be VIP shopping on the 8th? Who can say, but for those unfamiliar with Wang's sample sales, they often have customers waiting outside hours ahead of time to get the first crack at the merchandise.
Expect a madhouse, but if you are a Wang fan, you already knew that.
Hours, addresses and other details can be found in our SALE ROLL at left. Plan carefully.
Never a dull moment in Wang-world.
Today he is pulling a Beyoncé.
Alexander Wang, who just released a blockbuster collaboration line with H&M is not resting for the Holiday Season. He is reportedly launching an entire new line called Denim x Alexander Wang that is expected to be in stores tomorrow with exactly zero advance publicity except for a cryptic, possibly NSFW Instagram image that the designer posted earlier today (and which you can see after the jump). We know little more than that it is coming with a major ad campaign shot by Steven Klein. By this time tomorrow, the fashion and retailing industries will be talking of nothing else, so stay tuned for details.
The complete info is now online at the WWD link below. The denim collection —three styles in three washes making 9 different variations— will be available exclusively at the Alexander Wang SoHo boutique and through his website on Monday, December 8th. Expect a sellout within hours. WWD reports that the line "launches" today, which probably means that the Steven Klein ad campaign teased on Instagram is officially released. It features model Anna Ewers sort of wearing the jeans, in pretty solidly NSFW images meant to evoke Calvin Klein Jeans ads in their most controversial, early 90s days. “It’s not provocative just in terms of sexy, but provocative to provoke conversation,” Wang tells WWD. “I’m not dictating what that message is exactly. The interesting part is to see how people interpret it, and what they have to say about it. Of course, there are going to be people who disagree with it.” Have a look at them and form your own opinion after the jump.
As regular readers know, The Shophound sat out last weeks coverage of the Alexander Wang x H&M in-store launch because, at this point, we felt like we had a pretty good idea what kind of frenzy to expect, and by all reports we were right. Our friends at RACKED noted yesterday that there was a small trove of the collaboration spotted in one of the SoHo H&M stores, so when we were passing through The Shops at Columbus Circle, we stopped in to see what dregs were left in that store. Well, there were more than just dregs. We saw three racks packed with goods and while it was fairly random, we saw multiple units of a few major pieces incluing the Padded Leather Jackets for both men and women and quite a few shoe boxes. Today, when we were out checking on the big new TOPSHOP on Fifth Avenue (more on that later), we popped into the current biggest H&M Flagship in the world (or North America, or whatever) at 48th Street and found a whole corner of the main floor packed with leftover Wang. Possibly some of it is returned goods from customers with second thoughts, but there's enough there for customers who think they totally missed out on the event to get some nice pieces without resorting to eBay scalpers selling the collection at inflated prices. Again, it's a random mix, but there were a good amount of the Women's Parka and the Men's Windbreaker with removable down vests, several stretchy dresses, a bunch of Whistle Rings and quite a few of the leather pieces and various sweats and tanks amongst the racks. Also, tons of shoes. The other Fifth Avenue store at 52nd Street had nothing, so clearly there's some consolidation going on. While we would love to canvas the entire city to see what's left at all the other branches, well, we aren't going to, but at this point, it seems likely that the other larger branches will have a few racks of the collection left, at least for the moment. Of course, none of it has been marked down yet, but it's worth noting that H&M tends not to like having these big collaborations linger in stores for too long, so price reductions could come sooner than you might expect. Keep your eyes peeled for that, but in the meantime, if you thought you totally missed out on anything good from this collection, it's worth taking another look this weekend.
The Shophound will not be reporting from various H&M locations around the city for the simple reason that it seems clear that the launch of the Swedish chain's collaboration with Alexander Wang looks to be the biggest, craziest, most popular collaboration it has had since, well, probably since 2004 when they first started doing them. Our friends at Racked hit the special VIP preview shopping session for press last night (at left) and reported that the racks were picked clean within an hour. It's not surprising at all. This appears to be one of the most heavily promoted collaborations the chain has ever done including not only the obligatory TV commercials and subway and outdoor advertising, but a huge celebrity pre-launch party a couple of weeks ago that included a heavily produced runway show featuring more top models than any Fashion Week runway show had on hand last season plus a rare performing appearance from Missy Elliott. So, there's all that plus the fact that of all the designers H&M has joined forces with, Alexander Wang is, so far, the most wildly popular among the young customers whose business the chain cultivates. On top of that, rather than presenting new versions of tried and true signature pieces, this collection includes brand new designs that Wang fans won't already have in their closets. The participating stores carrying the collection will open at 8 AM today, and though H&M will be implementing the color-coded bracelet timed shopping session system that has worked for past collabs, it will probably still be pandemonium. Our advice, if you want to buy any of the collection, is to be on the retailer's website when online shopping commences and act as fast as you can.
Best of luck to you.
It's going to be a madhouse.
H&M is preparing for what might possibly be its most frenzied Designer Collaboration ever as its exclusive Alexander Wang collection launches on November 6th in select stores and online. Frankly, we are a little bit afraid of even attempting to visit the stores on that day, but at least we have plenty of time to plan ahead. You have seen the advertising images, and today, the entire collection has hit the internet by way of lookbook images all of which we have included in two separate galleries for women above and men below. We knew that it would be a special line of brand new items designed just for the Swedish retailer with an athletic theme, but unfortunately, the big surprise is that it is probably H&M's most expensively priced collaboration yet. Sure, there are tees and knits that run from just under $50 to around $99, but there are also pieces that run up to nearly $400, which is getting close to what regular Alexander Wang costs. We haven't seen the womnen's line itemized yet, but GQ has item shots of the men's collection which reveals that those cool high-top leather zip sneakers will be $299. Fast fashion prices? We don't think so. That great reflective down parka will be $349. Backpacks are checking in at $129 - $249. The zip sweatshirt with textured sleeves will be $349, and so on. Anyway, the stuff comes almost entirely in black and looks really cool. You can actually buy those boxing gloves ($59.95). There are a lot of logos, and if you want to wear a head elongating ski beanie ($29.95) that says "WANG" in big letters on it, then you may do so at your own risk. For us, it's a little on the nose, so to speak. Click the galleries, and decide for yourself.
Alexander Wang's collaboration line with H&M doesn't drop until November 6th, but the advertising campaign has just been unveiled. Rather than collecting together "Greatest Hits", Wang's line has been designed specifically for the chain with an athletic inspiration, so the designer cast soccer player Andy Carroll and kickboxer Rivaldino dos Santos alongside supermodels Joan Smalls, Isabeli Fontana, Natasha Poly and Raquel Zimmerman to be photographed by Mikael Jansson. “We wanted to take certain elements of each sport and portray the ultimate warrior,” Wang tells WWD. “The girls had to feel big and heroic, and Mikael used sunlight glares to heighten that effect against a stark white backdrop.”Have a look at the campaign in the gallery above.
Does The Shophhound ever post on a Sunday?
Almost never, but every now and then something happens over the weekend that merits immediate response, especially with a media cycle that would make it old news by tomorrow morning. It was inevitable that, at some point, Instagram would be used to make a Momentous Fashion Announcement, and so it happened late yesterday that Alexander Wang (pictured at left) used his hitherto little used account to post a video (embedded below) telling the world that he would be collaborating this Fall with H&M to launch a capsule collection for Women and Men set to stores on November 7th.
Of course, he posted it from Coachella. On a Saturday.
While most of us know we may never make it to the ultra-hyped California music festival that has become an extended Comic-Con of sorts for the ineffably cool, we will probably get a easier chance to buy Wang's collaboration line which will be available in 250 H&M stores around the word as well as through the retailer's web store —which we finally have here in the U.S. “I am honored to be a part of H&M’s designer collaborations," the designer says in a subsequent press release, "The work with their team is an exciting, fun process. They are very open to push boundaries and to set a platform for creativity. This will be a great way for a wider audience to experience elements of the Alexander Wang brand and lifestyle.” For H&M's part, creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch says, “Alexander Wang is one of the most important voices in fashion today. He understands exactly what people want to wear and does it with an energy and passion that’s infectious. It feels incredible to be collaborating with him this year.” No other details about the offerings have been released yet, although we expect they will trickle out throughout the summer. Given Wang's ever expanding popularity, however, we suggest you start planning your shopping strategy right now. We are anticipating one of the strongest public responses to this line as H&M has had for several seasons, so brace yourselves, and consider investing in a bit of camping equipment if you want to be first in line.
Even though the long-awaited twin Balenciaga boutiques aren't expected to arrive on Mercer Street until next Friday, the folks at WWD managed to get inside to see the dramatic, new women's store sans merchandise, and it looks like the stores will represent a major departure for the label's retail division (pictured above & below). While previous designer (and the one who can be credited with exhuming Balenciaga from near-obscurity) Nicolas Ghesquiere established a modern, futuristic ambiance for the brand's boutiques, his successor, Alexander Wang has taken a more traditional approach featuring tons (literally) of marble, and an opulent approach inspired by the house's original headquarters and majestic buildings like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “One of the main things I wanted to convey was a sense of permanence,” He tells WWD. “I want people to walk into the store and feel like it has been there forever.” Wang again collaborated with Ryan Korban with whom he developed a very different kind of mood for his own signature boutique a few blocks away on Grand Street. The next time we see this interior, it will look a bit different with its shelves and racks stocked. Both the men's and women's store are set to open on Friday the 22nd, but if they are this finished already, we wouldn't be surprised if the dors opened a bit earlier, so keep your eyes peeled.