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For many of us 2020 has not gone quite as planned. From a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic to brutal racial injustice, apocalyptic wildfires to democracy debated, this has been a year marked by multiple crises, unleashed all at once, all over the world. While COVID-19 disrupted plans life as we knew it, expected it and hoped it would be –– there’s no stopping Alexander Wang and the shapeshifting power of his woman.
“American fashion and being born in America has influenced me so much,” Alexander Wang told Vogue during the simpler time that was 2019. “Not just the brands, but what they stood for: strong, unapologetic women,” he continued. With the world in retreat, the need for strong, unapologetic women is now. As we look to 2021 with hopeful, optimistic eyes, LN-CC wanted to celebrate Alexander Wang by blowing up his unapologetic woman of today and placing her in New York, the adopted city the San Francisco-born continually realises his great American dream. Inspired by the iconic 50s B-movie Attack of the 50ft Woman, we reimagine London-based photographer and model Jess Maybury as the heroine we need right now. While hardly a feminist film, since its release the Nathan Juran-directed has certainly stimulated a dialogue around gender power dynamics – and not just because of the size of the protagonist played by Allison Hayes. Throughout its fifteen plus-years of downtown chic, Alexander Wang has stimulated the dialogue too.
Born in San Francisco to Chinese American parents, Alexander’s Bay Area upbringing shaped his laid-back aesthetic. Beyond otherworldly fantasy, he is driven by the desire to elevate the everyday. Beside fashion that reflects both today and tomorrow, his designs are adaptable armour for the modern woman. Growing up in a family of girls, his imagination was ignited by dress-up trunks and ballet costumes. Aged just three, he was doodling designs on restaurant napkins. Before his freshman year of high school, he attended a summer design course at CSM where he designed a collection of 33 evening dresses. At 18, he moved to New York to pursue a degree at Parsons School of Design. After interning at Marc Jacobs, Teen Vogue, Vogue,he dropped out of the course after two years to launch a line of unisex cashmere sweaters. "l realised there was this gap in the market for something that catered to me and my friends and our aesthetic, but wasn't girly or frilly," he explained at the time.
By spring/summer 07, he was ready to present his debut collection at New York Fashion Week which instantly introduced a new idea for women’s luxury: the uptown woman with a downtown sensibility. Believing a T-shirt and jeans could be just as sexy and powerful as an evening gown, Alexander cultivated a Glamleisure design signature of slouchy Tees, layered dresses and trousers that perfectly merge his Californian upbringing with downtown reality. "It's about making clothes that girls want to wear," Wang explained shortly after releasing his first collection, "clothes that are easily adaptable into their wardrobes but still have something very fresh, new and modern." Soon after launching his eponymous label in 2005, Alexander Wang became the de facto uniform-maker of “model off duty” for a downtown New York City crowd, but the relaxed, sensual ease of the quintessential Wang look came straight from the West Coast. This streetwise luxury aesthetic, captured the moment perfectly and saw him awarded the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award in 2008 and subsequent CFDA awards for Womenswear and Accessory Designer of the Year in 2009 and 2011. Both Alexander and the Alexander woman had it. They still do and we can’t get enough. From curb to club, the 90s inspired non-conforming utilitarian designs, casual silhouettes and youthful vitality-driven detailing have us all covered.
“My kind of girl is a little rough around the edges, very natural, very individual,” he told i-D back in 2009. “She wears what makes her feel comfortable, it's always easy, and it never looks put together. Yet at the same time it's always just a little bit off. She's never afraid to be a bit of bad girl or a little rebellious.” Both he and the women he designs for delight in duality. From Anna Ewers to CL, Binx Walton to Kaia Gerber, Alice Glass to Tinashe, #WangSquad has encapsulated this multi-layered attitude. Sexy yet androgynous, provocative yet refined, high yet low, Alexander Wang’s modern vision of femininity reflects modern womanhood. We bow down.
Photography: Raphael Bliss,@raphaelbliss
Digital artwork and retouching: Helen Chr
Model: Jess Maybury