The sport-inspired backbone that’s run through the past several seasons’ collections may have reached its apotheosis last night, when Alexander Wang got the fashion crowd to go way uptown to a track-and-field facility for his H&M collaboration show. (In terms of far-flung Wang locations, it looks like the Armory on the Hudson is the new Brooklyn Navy Yard.) Foam fists, sporty mini-backpacks, and water bottles greeted the revelers — who included Jessica Chastain, Solange Knowles, Natasha Lyonne, and Justin Theroux — as they arrived at the track turned catwalk.
The show opened with a video starring Joan Smalls and Raquel Zimmermann, among others, contending with the elements on the slopes and on the street. No sooner had the last frame run than a group of parkour pros began trampling and scaling walls, right in the middle of the runway. Wang, who knows how to keep pace with the fashion crowd’s collective ADD, then brought out almost 50 looks on a hard-bodied supermodel cast: streamlined puffers, techy T-shirts, logo-covered sports bras. The accessories were a far cry from what you’d see at one of Wang’s main-line shows: They included paratrooper-style belts, protective face gear, and the odd hockey stick or football.
Wang definitely can’t be accused of not committing, as a coach might say, 110 percent to the theme. Even though, as he revealed at a press conference yesterday, he is not himself an athlete, the designer seems to recognize that so-called athleisure is more about an ethos than an actual reality. The customers who buy these clothes may not be X Games–ready, but neither are flannel-shirted Timberland-wearers actually lumberjacks. It’s a game of dress-up, and the designer had fun with that juxtaposition, notably in club-ready dresses done in performance-wear fabrications.
Missy Elliott closed out the night with an abbreviated throwback set and an equally old-school plea: that everyone in the audience put their camera phones down and just dance. “Did y’all come to be cute, or did y’all come to party?” If you’re wearing Wang for H&M, you don’t need to make that distinction.