The rumours of Christopher Kane and Alexander Wang taking over at Balenciaga where both terrifying, and sadly one of them was true. Alexander Wang is set to take over at the Paris house, effective immediately. Here’s why this shouldn’t be happening.
1. Balenciaga deserves a full time creative director. Let’s get real here, Alexander Wang has a highly successful business based out of New York City, does anyone really think he is going to put in his 100% at Balenciaga? Of course not. It makes sense for designers to do this when they aren’t completely established, but this is not the case with Wang. Balenciaga’s history and archive are so important and influential, they deserve someone who is going to be totally dedicated to the brand. Not someone who will be busy designing parkas in New York, for half the year.
2. A t-shirt designer is not good enough for a famed couture house. Wang is famous for t-shirts. Balenciaga is famous for the most incredible couture dresses in the 60’s, and then a very artistic (albeit weird), luxury interpretation of fashion under Ghesquiere’s helm. American sportswear does not fit into that mix.
3. Wang is all about predictable it-girls and accessibility, that is certainly not the essence of Balenciaga. Let’s face it, Wang is a bit tacky. His customer is the so-called “cool” New York girls who like to look effortless and relaxed. If they “follow” Wang to Balenciaga, then the brand in turn will become that same tacky. Why does Balenciaga need to court these women? And this new market? It is depressing. Is everything ALWAYS about the bottom line? I guess I know the answer to that question…
4. The sweatshop rumours. Those seemed to have disappeared quietly, because there was a settlement. I am pretty sure there must have been at least a grain of truth to that case, if not, it probably wouldn’t have made it as far as it did. I’m not really that keen on Balenciaga hiring a designer who is know for using sweatshop labour.
5. There’s no chance at a return to couture. I know that couture is irrelevant these days, but I was secretly hoping that the next designer at Balenciaga would do some couture. The haute couture business IS doing reasonably well right now, and it helps sell handbags, so it’s not a total loss leader. I was dreaming of big puffy ballgowns done in some sort of cool, interesting way (sort of like how Valli does them, but different.) Of course with Wang at the helm, there is NO chance of this. And if there is, and he is allowed to design couture, well, I will just CRY.
Now all we can do is wait… and I sincerely hope that I am pleasantly surprised come March.
Images from Vogue.com.