Last night Grazia got the chance to hang out with our new BFF Alexander Wang. The designer, who was greeting his adoring public at Selfridges in London (seriously, where were you?), was overwhelmed by the response, gasping when he heard one fan had flown over especially from Tokyo that morning ‘Oh my gawd! That’s SO far!’.
Grazia was a little amazed at how young the Wang Gang is – the majority seemed to be teenagers, (some even tweens) many of them actually wearing Wang (jealous, us?), and all wielding notebooks, not for the purposes of getting the fashion superstar’s autograph, but for writing down his comments, presumably for their blogs. Generation Tavi. It felt a little like being trapped in an episode of Gossip Girl, with lots of hysterical shrieking from girls clutching boxes of cupcakes and glittery notebooks. But as the 25-year-old designer pointed out 'I guess I’m not so much older myself.’ (Thanks, Grazia now feels about 100).
Standing in the concession that he said was modelled on the interior of his Manhattan apartment – all shagpile rugs and quirky coffee tables – the New Yorker said he was impressed with London style. 'Girls here are very individual, it’s such a London thing, they’re maybe a bit more rebellious than New York girls. There’s a fearlessness, they experiment with hats or jewellery…it’s very inspiring that people can just leave the house like that’.
But Alex was already a fan of London style; he studied at Central St Martins one summer when he was 17, before returning to New York to intern with Marc Jacobs and then enrol at Parsons to study fashion design. He left the course early to start his own label, selling knitwear from a suitcase that he dragged into stores in LA. He started his first full range in 2007, and, as he says, ‘the last two years have been phenomenal.’
Last night Wang was interviewed in front of his fans by style writer Colin McDowell, who described the designer as the ‘hottest star of the moment’.
The appeal of Wang’s label is obvious; cool, laid-back clothes that pretty much anyone can wear, and afford. ‘It’s always important to me that the clothes we create are attainable,’ he says ‘and we work on a tighter price range.’
Understandably (and despite the teen turn out) Wang has a wide fan base. ‘It’s not about a certain age bracket or ethnic background, it’s more a sensibility, and definitely one that’s found in New York.’ That sensibility is about wear-it-now fashion: ‘New Yorkers are just a little more urgent…[they want] clothes you just throw on, and layer up’.
His signature 'model off-duty' style is famously inspired by model Erin Wasson, but Wang denies she is his muse. ‘Erin’s more of a friend than a muse – I think that word is out-dated, and I never use it myself.’ Of course, thanks to Wang, everyone wants to look like Wasson now, and he admits, ‘I don’t think that the way New Yorkers dress is dramatically different to London; at the moment in New York it’s very much about that urban uniform; leather jacket, jeans, booties.' The Wang look, essentially.
Throwing open the floor for questions from the audience, one teenage fan took the mic to squeal, 'My friends just wanted me to tell you that they think… you’re awesome!'. We all laughed, but we all agreed.
And according to Sally Scott, Selfridges marketing director, (who was in New York a couple of months ago to see the Spring collection) the best is yet to come: 'If you love him now, you’re going to really love him next season.' Best get some bodyguards for your next visit, Alex.