Instead of show notes at today’s Alexander Wang show, which would have helped us discern whether the clothes were made of cowhide or iguana leather or something else entirely — which is impossible to tell for yourself once the smoke machines get started — there was a single sealed card with the first names of each model. Pretentious, sure, but also fitting because Wang is known for his inventive casting. Last season, he convinced the recently scandalized Liberty Ross to walk for him; the season before, he managed to get major faces like Gisele Bundchen, Frankie Rayder, Karolina Kurkova, Shalom Harlow, and Carmen Kass — models who are much more likely to sit front row than walk these days. Anyway, 11 of the 39 models on Wang’s runway today also walked at Nicolas Ghesquière’s last Balenciaga show in the fall. This can’t be a total coincidence, especially since Balenciaga has an even bigger and more longstanding reputation for ballsy, out-of-the-box casting choices.
Many of the models that Wang and Balenciaga had in common are girls who’d walked for each label previously. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing that their aesthetic ideals are similar enough that over 25 percent of their models overlapped. Moreover, those eleven girls all have a similar hardened, edgy quality — Jamie Bochert, with her slightly masculine, jolie-laide features, is the best example. Neither Wang nor Ghesquière are interested in cute girls, and Wang will carry forth that tradition at Balenciaga.
Both Wang and Ghesquière have longstanding relationships with their respective casting directors, Anita Bitton and Ashley Brokaw; it’s unclear whether Wang will work with Brokaw on his upcoming Balenciaga debut or whether he’ll bring Bitton along with him. Either way, it’s a safe bet we’ll see several of today’s faces on the Balenciaga runway in a few weeks. Click through our slideshow to familiarize yourself.