Alexander Wang’s ‘The Garage Show’ reimagines the typical runway show

Alexander Wang’s ‘The Garage Show’ reimagines the typical runway show

Alexander Wang is full of surprises. The brand, which recently moved its headquarters to a cavernous, polished cement space in the South Street Seaport, marches to its own beat regarding runway shows. Of late, Alexander Wang shows off-calendar inconsistently, which is a good thing. The designer has eschewed the mandatory seasonal showing mentality, and reserves shows for big news and something to communicate.

Alexander Wang show in New York – Courtesy

On Wednesday in New York, which has become an ad-hoc resort week of sorts, Wang transformed his Grand Street store into his idea of the grandeur of an American mansion a la Ralph Lauren, but in line with his aesthetic, a garage made from car parts and other junkyard treasure. The event, which the brand referred to as a stunt, was designed in partnership with Crosby Studios to reimagine the store space.

The event was timed midstream through the store’s renovation and transformed the space, complete with a junk car hanging outside of the side of the building, into a garage-themed show space constructed from junk such as fenders, grills, hubcaps, headlights, computer keyboards, old car seats, engine parts such as one floating in a fish tank.

Tanning beds and show seating made from pleather stuffed garbage bags rounded out the space, dripping in random wires and tubing from the ceilings. Piles of fake money were strewn about, and show attendants heavily guarded a table made from broken glass and tire rims. A smoke machine and orange spotlights added a mysterious vibe. The scene would have pleased Fred from the retro TV show ‘Sanford & Sons’ (IYKYK). Certain aspects of the show will remain in the retail space until the full renovation is completed in the near future. spoke with Wang over Zoom the morning after the show as the brand was putting the finishing touches on a collection film to round out the media value of the show production and communicate the message to a larger audience.

“The collections have a fluidity and similar thread, the Trap Stud, deconstructed T-shirt, primal leather, and denim. The idea of seasons and ship dates is a back-of-house lingo for the industry; the common audience doesn’t think about this,” Wang said, adding, “We still have market four times a year, but when we do a show, it doesn’t matter what season it is. What the guests talk about is the fun things they saw or are being entertained by; we combine it with humor and hope they react by saying ‘wait, did that just happen.”

Indeed, the runway was full of fun antics, thanks to viral social media stunt doyenne Yulya Shadrinsky, who choreographed the models. A model/actor dressed as a disoriented yet fashionable vagrant opened the show carrying fistfuls of money. The models who followed paused to stare or lick their lips at a guest; one spoke loudly on a cell phone and eventually threw it.

Paris Jackson also walked wearing a leather studded harness under a hoodie. For the finale, models May Anderson and Omahyra arm wrestled on the ‘glass’ table, dislodging several panes in a crumbled mass on the floor, much to the gasp of viewers who didn’t immediately realize it was sugar glass for movie stunts.

Wang had another special guest walk the runway. Dennis Rodman, his head covered in the metal studs placed over his bleach blonde locks. He stopped mid-walk to approach an audience member who applied fresh lipstick to Rodman’s lips.

“Dennis is someone I’ve always admired. He is a risk-taker and trailblazer and never puts himself in a box; I love that. For the show, I thought about who these characters I grew up looking at, and he was at the top of that list,” explained Wang.

Alexander Wang show in New York – Courtesy

Combining the three seasons was also a way to double down on the brand identity and exit the four shows season mentality that some brands follow, something Wang calls unsustainable.

“The customer doesn’t know what season they are looking at; they want to see brand storytelling. When we show up, I want it to be because we have something to say,” he asserted. 

As models walked to a furious techno beat, it was clear that the brand’s new Ricco bag, the evolution of its popular 2010’s Rocco bag, was this show’s message. Wang’s signature Trap Stud hardware which marks the handbag, bedecked everything from the other accessories, sexy leather staples, and even body parts.

With the use of asymmetry, severe cropping, distressing, bodysuit dressing and slits, Wang transformed both a tailored and athleisure wardrobe into a sexy and provocative romp. The three collections combined were Pre-Fall Legacy 2.0, Fall Primal Decadence, and Resort Meta Morph 2024 offerings.

The approach also indicates the purpose of fashion shows today versus when he began.

“It’s very different for us now. We consider that there is a live and social audience, different aspects to everything you think about, and how long the content lives. We break it apart, deconstruct the whole format, and look at how to make a hybrid of live, CGI, and pre-filmed content. When we release the film, the final edit will be clear on social media about how the whole story comes together,” he continued.

The film, directed by Maxime Quoilin and produced in partnership with Good Company, will highlight the show 360 degrees, which caught in three separate rooms that constituted the runway (thus, not all audience members saw it). It will also give greater meaning to Kim Cattrall’s show presence at the show —the actress slithered into her seat wearing an oversized blazer as a dress just as the show started—and explain more about the backside of a car hanging out of the venue space and just what inspired the design that Wang worked with Crosby Studios to create.

“I thought of Ralph Lauren, the pinnacle of American fashion with global success. His mansions are a part of the New York landscape and super opulent. I thought what it would look like to do the garage of that mansion, still making it opulent and glam with junk and being immersive,” he said.

Alexander Wang show in New York – Courtesy

The intricate staging gave Wang some pre-show jitters that he typically has worked past since launching his brand almost 20 years ago.

“This show reminded me of one of my first shows that I did with Erin Wasson under scaffolding. It was smoky, and the models wore ripped tights and beanies. I felt like I was showing for the first time; I was nervous with so many [technical] aspects to think about: the glass breaks, the wind machine, the models hitting their cues.”

Luckily, it seemingly went off without a hitch. Next, Wang will think about the 20th anniversary in 2025, The Garage Show, almost like a precursor of what’s to come.

“I thought when putting this project together it’s putting myself in the mindset of the 20th to think of the brand as an ‘it’ and not a ‘me’ as if I came into the brand as a new designer—which is the topic everyone is talking about these days, designers coming in and out—I think what codes would I have to work with versus ‘I have done this for 20 years, how do I push myself further?'” he said, recalling the elements the show was ripe with; studding, sexy leathers, distressed denim and reconstructed T-shirts.

“All of that is at the heart of where we were at as a brand in the beginning.” As the Wang sphere continues to expand, there are currently three more North American stores opening in Las Vegas, Miami, and Toronto, respectively, for a total of 53 globally; it’s clear that the foundation is still going strong.

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