Alexander Wang Fall/Winter 2015

Fashion history is scattered with collections devoted to the shade of black. Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton swan song comes to mind; so does a vintage Comme des Garçons show circa Fall 1992. There are many others. Tonight it was Alexander Wang’s turn. Explaining his motivation at his studio yesterday, Wang said, “Our customer wants black, so why not do an all-black collection?”

To hear a designer mention his customers, like Wang did, is rarer than it probably should be. It was certainly refreshing. But there’s at least one good reason not to do all-black clothes. Black can look flat on the runway, and even flatter in runway pictures. Wang knew he’d have to juice it to make it work. Which must have been what got him thinking about the many subcultures for whom black is a way of life. Goths, Japanese Lolitas, heavy-metal hair bands. He gave Marilyn Manson and Kiss specific shout-outs, and you could see them both in the models’ slicked, spiky ‘dos and in their Frankenstein boots. Attitude for days.

Generally speaking, the clothes were less extreme than the styling, though not without an edge. Wang gave the pieces energy by loading them up with hardware. Ball-chain trim decorated the velvet revers of a tuxedo jacket and a silk jacquard robe, and lined the curving seams of willowy sleeveless dresses with cutouts at the shoulders. Three columns of silver snaps marched across boxy jackets, and there was the occasional wallet chain attached to the waistband of cropped trousers. Quilted vests were modeled after bulletproof ones, but they’d shed any menacing undertones. Kendall Jenner’s fitted top and long, fluid skirt trimmed with chain fringe at the hem counted as the most romantic evening look of Wang’s career.

Partly because there was so much black, fisherman sweaters with the same ball-chain detail and flocked blue jeans really stood out. Ditto a hunter jacket in a grungy red and black plaid. The stars of the show were the MA-1 jacket and fur-trimmed parka made from a silvery 90 percent metal nylon. They’ll connect with shoppers in a way the sheer chain mail dresses worn underneath—as fabulously kinky as they were—never could. All in all, and aside from those Frankenstein boots, this looked like the most retail-friendly collection Wang has done in a while. The customer really is always right.

Nicole Phelps

Alexander Wang Fall/Winter 2015