When the rumor mill began to churn that Alexander Wang, 28, was heading to Paris to take on the leading role at Balenciaga, it seemed an unlikely choice. He’s too young, too street, too young! But when the news was confirmed, many of the doubters began to rally behind Wang, joining supporters like Anna Wintour, who quickly stamped out any notion of Mr. Wang being too young by declaring that “is when designers are at their most fearless. That is when you do your most creative work.”
Interestingly enough, Wang’s predecessor at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière, was only 25 when he joined the house in 1997. Perhaps that’s the key to keeping a storied house like Balenciaga fresh—bring on young talent! And as for being “too American” for Paris, plenty of other American designers have taken the helm of French houses: Michael Kors at Celine; Narciso Rodriguez at Cerruti and Marc Jacobs has maintained his post as Creative Director at Louis Vuitton since 1997.
Now the conversation has turned to what Wang can do for Balenciaga. The young New York designer has turned his namesake label into one of the most sought-after brands among the influential downtown set. Furthermore, Wang represents a group of young Asian-American designers who are setting the pace for contemporary fashion, among them Thakoon, Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim and Derek Lam, for whom he interned in the early aughts.
In an interview in WWD, Isabelle Guichot, chief executive officer of Balenciaga said: “We wanted someone with global thinking, a citizen of the world, and someone who could understand the digital world and the direction of fashion and retail tomorrow. It will be a new vision; a new understanding of the brand. The heritage of Balenciaga is so big. Just a part of it has been exploited, but obviously not all of it.”
Wang—who officially took the reigns on December 3—is expected to show his first collection for Balenciaga at the Fall 2013 shows in Paris.