It's official: Balenciaga confirmed this morning (via Twitter) that Alexander Wang will be its new creative director, replacing the widely acclaimed Nicolas Ghesquière. "Alexander Wang has responsibility for designing the brand's women's and men's ready-to-wear and accessories collections, as well as for Balenciaga's image," reads the press release, which also confirms that Wang will continue to design his own eponymous fashion house. The statement points out that the Alexander Wang brand is "independently-owned," which suggests that a majority-stake investment from Balenciaga parent company PPR was not part of this deal. [@Balenciaga]
Critical reaction to the news has been tepid but not damning, reflecting Wang's identity as a young New York streetwear designer and Balenciaga's status as a taste-making Paris fashion house (that fashion writers don't want to alienate). Writing before the official announcement but after Wang's hiring had been widely reported, Cathy Horyn said of Wang, "he is a pretty good street designer." Ouch. The Financial Times Vanessa Friedman calls Wang a "hipster designer" and continues:
He's a streetwear/contemporary market designer, known primarily for his cool T-shirts, trousers and bomber jackets. Yesterday, talking to a friend in town from Italy, Wang's name came up as a designer her 16-year-old loved. Doesn't seem to me 16-year-olds are Balenciaga's target customer.
So if he is the pick, that leads me to think that maybe PPR wants to change direction with Balenciaga, and go in for a more contemporary and less haute mode, so it can get into that lucrative market, which is growing in China. See what LVMH has done with Kenzo, for example, where hipster boutique owners Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have moved that brand into the contemporary direction. [...]
But to turn Balenciaga, with its storied history and rigorous design sense, into a jeans and tees brand seems almost, well, sacrilegious. I know fashion has a notoriously short memory, but still. Heritage matters.
[FT, On The Runway]
Another potential source of awkwardness during the transition from the Ghesquière era to the Wang era? Kristen Stewart and Liberty Ross. Ghesquière and Stewart are said to be close friends, and Stewart is both the face of a Balenciaga perfume and a frequent, high-profile wearer of the house's clothing. Wang, meanwhile, is team Liberty. He helped Ross make her first public appearance following the scandal that ended her marriage — in case you forgot, her husband Rupert Sanders had an affair with Stewart — when he cast the former model in his spring show. [StyleCaster]
Jewelry designer Alison Lou got Girls star Jemima Kirke to shoot her lookbook. Kirke imitates the facial expressions of the little characters that feature in Lou's jewelry. [ Lucky]
- Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's second trial for tax evasion begins in Italy today. The duo are charged alongside four other defendants, including their tax consultant, with under-reporting the value of their company when they technically transferred ownership of the Dolce & Gabbana brands to a holding company in Luxembourg in order to avoid paying some €400 million in Italian taxes on the sale. Dolce and Gabbana were previously cleared of wrongdoing in the case, but a higher court overturned that outcome and ordered a retrial. [Telegraph]
- King of collaborations Karl Lagerfeld will design four seasonal capsule collections for Melissa shoes, the maker of jellies. [WWD]
- Khloe Kardashian says she and her sisters named their licensed makeup collection "Khroma" all by themselves. The Kardashians and their licensing partners are being sued by an existing makeup brand named Chroma. Kardashian says it all came from Kim's "doodling":
"We were literally throwing out names ... we were saying we wanted the packaging to be metallic, chromes, we were going to do these colors, but also gold and rose gold in all of our packaging, chrome colors. [...]
Kim started doodling the word 'Khroma.' We were writing down all the names, and everybody left, and there was this piece of paper on the table with her doodles on it, and we took it and brought it back with us and thought 'Hmm, this could actually work as a logo.' The name, I think, all three of us decided we wanted metallics in the packaging. Chroma means 'color,' that's where the word comes from."
- Warner's is touting a new bra it calls "The Unbelievable UnWire bra." According to the company, the bra employs patented, proprietary technology that enables a flexible "unwire" to be "twisted, washed or crumpled, only to spring back to its original shape." It'll be in stores in February. [WWD]
- Miu Miu opened, and closed, a pop-up women-only member's club in London. The brand gave the club the typographical joke of a name the-miumiu-london, and it attracted such guests as Kate Moss. [WWD, Fashionista]