Larocca: Alexander Wang’s Growing Pains

Alexander Wang has been doing swift business for the past few seasons in soft cashmere T-shirts that are beautifully proportioned and draped, exactly what all sorts of women would like to wear in all sorts of situations: to the office, to the beach. So it is perhaps ironic that the biggest problem with the collection he showed yesterday afternoon at Pier 94 was that it was so incredibly stiff: charcoal and pinstripe suiting, for example, looked rough and itchy and square. Narrow cropped trousers and woolen shorts were neat updates, but blazers hacked to reveal midriffs and extended into tails looked awkward and, frankly, uncomfortable. The occasional panel of lace did more to soften the effect than the chiffon ribbons dangling from backpacks (the little knapsacks and the thick-heeled shoes called to mind late-nineties Prada) or the application of velvet or chenille.

Wang’s great success thus far (with just six collections to his name, he’s built a $25 million business at the age of 25) is that he’s become the house designer to a sort of urban cool-girl, and as such, he’s driven quite a few recent trends: the versatility of gnarled gray sweatshirt fabric, for example, as well as a hipster take on the Daisy Duke. But he and his business are growing up, and this collection’s more traditional fabrics and shapes felt like an exploration — incomplete, but worth making.

The show closed with a series of draped minidresses that seemed designed specifically for the women who have both worked with and inspired him thus far (Erin Wasson and Victoria Traina among them), and one couldn’t help but exhale a drop. For one thing, they moved, and for another, it felt good to know that Wang is still the go-to guy for all the girls with the gorgeous thighs.

View the Alexander Wang Fall 2010 Collection.

Larocca: Alexander Wang’s Growing Pains