alexander wang threw a rager in an abandoned harlem theater
For his fall/winter 17 collection, the designer filled a crumbling Hamilton Heights landmark with pounding music, free beer, and an army of models in all-black clothes.
"I feel like I'm walking into a haunted house," said a woman on her way into Alexander Wang's fall/winter 17 show last night. Entering on West 146th Street, on the corner of Broadway, we'd found ourselves in a dark room filled with Peroni kegs (free beer was given out in plastic cups), before walking through a dimly lit corridor wrapped in black plastic sheeting. It all felt slightly like an ill-advised teenage escapade into an abandoned building.
Past two grand staircases covered in peeling paint and graffiti, we emerged into the full decrepit grandeur of what Google revealed to be the RKO Hamilton Theater. The former New York institution opened in 1913 as a vaudeville house, then enjoyed spells as a movie theater, an evangelic church, a boxing ring, and a disco, before being bought by a property developer and left vacant for decades. Last night, the cavernous auditorium was cut through by an elevated catwalk, which the audience crowded around drinking beer and dancing to golden-era Diddy hits and Migos's "Bad and Boujee."
The music, spun by Metro Boomin on his sticker-covered laptop in a far corner, was so loud at times it seemed like the bass might shake peeling plaster from the balconies or crumbling ceiling cornices. It felt like one of Wang's famously raging after-parties — except this was just the show and the wristbands we all wore emphatically declared "NO AFTER-PARTY." When the models finally stormed onto the runway, walking at full-throttle speed with mussed-up hair and heavy chain necklaces, it became clear there really would be no after-party: the words "No After-Party" were written down the leg of model Aleece Wilson's sheer black tights.
Today, Wang launched a "No After-Party" capsule collection on his website, selling tees, tights, and denim printed with his new tongue-in-cheek catchphrase. And when he ran down the runway himself to take his bow, hair streaming, his T-shirt also reiterated his PSA three times over in repeated lines of Helvetica.
But that didn't mean Wang is suddenly over fun. The collection he showed was a full-blown tribute to party girls. There were skinny black suits, black mini skirts with ruffled hems trimmed in ball chain, black catsuits, black leather waistcoats fringed with silver chain, and sheer black mini dresses patterned with shiny black leopard print. The finale starred a series of body-clinging mesh dresses covered with long black and chrome beads that jumped like electricity as the models stomped past in quilted black biker boots.
While there was no impromptu carnival or pop-up strip club complete with pole dancers and Hooters waitresses — as there have been in previous seasons — last night still felt like the best kind of party: one where Fetty Wap, Brooklyn Beckham, Zoë Kravitz, and Suzy Menkes were all dancing to the same pumping music.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Mitchell Sams