Alexander Wang with his brother Dennis, mother Ying and sister-in-law Aimie
It seems today is Learn About Your Fave Designer And Their Mum day and following nicely from Riccardo Tisci comes the always-chirpy, always-skipping Alexander Wang. Granted, we’d be somewhat disappointed if we ever read an interview with Alex where the words languid, rigid and solemn are used to describe him but we’d bet the A/W’11 Wang quilted parka we’ve got our eyes on but alas, don’t own that this will never happen.
So, what have we learned about Alex from the interview he gave to The Telegraph? For starters, he laughs a lot, he talks bullet-train-fast barely pausing for breath and…he can turn his t-shirt (his own label, grey, silk cotton) the right way round while wearing it! Yep, we love him too. But it’s not just about laughs and having a swell of a time for the 27-year-old designer. ‘To me all sides of the business have been just as exciting and challenging in their own way,’ he reveals. ‘The part about building a lifestyle brand while balancing the creative and commercial side - I think that's where I find the biggest inspiration to push myself.’ We know that the designer that encapsulated the always-desired but rarely-achieved MOD look (Models-Off-Duty) in one of his slightly worn, slightly body-skimming, slightly-sheer but just-so-right tee dress (boat-neck, longer at the back) is very focused but is he the absolute ruler of his super-cool NY studio? ‘I've always said I'm not the kind of designer who likes to lock himself away in a studio and let the rest of the company deal with it,’ Alex says, ‘I work very closely with everyone on the team.' In fact, while some saw Nineties Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester in his S/S’11 collection, it seems the construction of Wang’s studio was at the heart of it all along! ‘That's where all the ideas of duct tape and the carpenter pant and the scribble print came from.’
But back to his mum, 'she's little but she has a big impact’ Alex says! Although his parents emigrated from Taiwan to America with their two older children before he was born and his mum started life in San Fran as a restaurant dishwasher before going on to become a flight attendant, a bank teller and then, with her husband, the founder of a successful plastics manufacturing business in China, he grew up into some wealth and attended a boarding school alongside his best friend Victoria Traina. ‘[Victoria] would come into class in some designer shoes that she'd cut the ankle straps off. And I'd be like, "Wow, you just spent however much money on those...She treated everything in this very non-precious way.’ It seems this nonchalant attitude to fashion rubbed off on Alex too but it’s his mom he credits with kick-starting his fashion career, ’I was fascinated by magazines,' he says. 'I scribbled, drew shoes, picked clothes out for my mom. She really encouraged me. She bought me my first sewing machine and she'd bring home fresh flowers and say, "Draw something for me." I've always had a very supportive family. There are all these sorts of stereotypes that certain backgrounds - Asian families - want to direct you into certain [careers] but my family has always been, "This is where your talent is, let's go for it." And with that I've been very lucky.'
And seeing Alex’s first fashion show took place at his brother Dennis' wedding with 35 outfits he’d designed for his sister-in-law Aimie (now respectively the brand’s Chief Principal Officer CEO) it’s safe to guess his family is pretty lucky to have him too!
-- Kiki Georgiou