Alexander Wang SPRING 2019 READY-TO-WEAR

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Alexander Wang stopped to give his family hugs on his way backstage after one of his typically energetic bows. It was the first time his father had ever seen his show in person.

“What a perfect one for him to attend,” the designer said, “because the inspiration started with my mom and dad taking a trip together.” Though his parents are long separated, Wang reunited them recently in Santa Barbara, and he heard their story about immigrating to America. “How could I have never asked them about it before?” he remembered, tearing up a bit. Immigration is a subject much in the news, thanks to President Trump’s nativist stance. Wang tends not to make political statements on his runway. Typically, he comes by his topicality via pop culture (with regards to that, he had Pusha T—he of the Drake beef—in his front row). In any case, this collection felt more personal than political, though that in itself was novel.

Note cards on every seat read: “Today marks a new beginning, a new identity, and a new day for my brand.” He’s shifted his shows to a June-December time frame to be more efficient with deliveries, and he’s dropped seasonal names (this was called Collection 1). But more than that, you got the sense that some soul searching has happened. In the wake of a fairly disastrous “guerrilla” show in Brooklyn last September and a somewhat misguided February show about CEO style, Wang embraced his family roots, a lacuna in his work. His family’s and his own as a designer. Because, of course, there was a lot more in play here than qipaos and flannel pj’s with Chinatown printed down the leg.

The collection was a proverbial melting pot of references: Axl Rose bandanas and easy separates in bandana prints, football jerseys and a sexy dress made from a deconstructed football jersey, motocross gear, biker shorts of the sort Bella Hadid has been knocking around in, tricked-out leather jackets, embellished surgical masks, pelmet minis with chunky logo belts, and a nice pair of deeply cuffed, so-faded-they’re-almost-white jeans. Plus, a new sneaker with Adidas. And Stars and Stripes face paint. It was hyper-styled yet still quite street. Blustery conditions aside—the presentation was held on-theme on a rooftop at the South Street Seaport—it was the most fun I’ve had at an Alexander Wang show in a while.