INSIDE THE ALEXANDER WANG X H&M PARTY
Parkour, supermodels and Hollywood partying with the fashion elite. Plus a surprise performance by Missy Elliott. Mattie Kahn takes you inside what we would like to call the party of the year.
“It’s like the U.S. Open in here,” declared a man in leather leggings and a crop top.
“Only better,” his companion replied. Because when Alexander Wang referees a sporting event, everybody wins.
Last week, the designer presented his capsule collection for H&M at the Armory on the Hudson in New York City. Inside the Harlem venue, guests were given branded foam fists to brandish, icy beers to sip, and miniature boxes of popcorn to munch on for a few bites of thematic sustenance.
Even in the midst of such merriment, longtime Wang fans managed to get a little sentimental.
“I think I started out with his T-shirts, which I loved and that I still wear all the time,” recalled Dakota Fanning of her introduction to the designer. Indeed, the actress had decided to wear one such oversize top (sans pants) that very evening.
Elsewhere, Australian actress Melissa George remembered the now iconic Rocco Duffel as the first Alexander Wang piece she ever “fell for.”
“We all loved it,” she said.
Evidently, we still do. Natasha Lyonne arrived minutes later, carrying an updated version of the classic studded satchel.
Once inside, The Orange is the New Black star joined such heavyweights as Eddie Redmayne, Irina Shayk, and Kate Mara on the monochromatic indoor field.
Having spied the sportswear chic collection in advance, Mara declared that the latest Wang wares are “suited for anything” but concluded that they are especially well-matched for boxing: “Obviously.”
“I just started boxing a few months ago, so it’s kind of my new obsession,” she admitted.
For the most part, Mara managed to keep her hands to herself but the actress did get physical with costume designer Johnny Wujek. The two goofed around on the track before the show began.
From their perches in the front row, models Hanne Gaby Odiele and Kasia Struss clinked champagne flutes and charmed photographers. Nearby, Solange Knowles took her seat alongside friends. And just before the lights dimmed, Jessica Chastain sidled up to Dakota Fanning while Mary J. Blige greeted Justin Theroux.
After a moment of hushed anticipation, attendees focused their attention upwards. Overhead, the official campaign video debuted on illuminated scoreboards. Featuring Joan Smalls, Natasha Poly, Raquel Zimmerman, and others, the footage followed the supermodels as they braved arctic conditions and extreme elements with enviable grace.
As soon as the screens went dark, acrobats descended from the ceiling to perform in three dimensions and in flagrant defiance of the laws of gravity. Then the models emerged.
Sporting neoprene separates, utility vests, and the errant mouth guard, the men and women that Wang cast did not slink down the runway. They stomped.
As is his custom, Wang opted out of the traditional runway bow. Instead, he ran a full lap around the racetrack while cannons shot confetti into the air. Once the metallic and metaphoric dust settled, showgoers sprinted backstage to shop.
Inside the pop-up store, revelers nabbed neoprene zip-ups, all-weather leggings, and mesh tanks, Refinery29 Style Director Connie Wang scored branded sweatshirts for her whole family, and even the genetically blessed got in on the action.
Clutching a rosy juice in one hand and several flavors of outwear in the other, Karlie Kloss chose a soft white tee and slung a coveted backpack over her shoulder.
“The backpack is my favorite,” Tyson Beckford offered. But the model had yet to secure his own when we found him. He had other priorities.
“My girlfriend is shopping,” he explained. “She’s got a whole rack. She doesn’t want me to carry none of it. I was like, ‘Yo, let me carry it. You shop.’”
Shanina Shaik—clad in lace-up, thigh-high boots—just grinned. Proving that an Alexander Wang girl is not afraid to flex her muscles, she held half a dozen items under each arm.
“Get it! Get it! Get it!” Beckford cheered.
Like the best athletic contests, this one ended on a high note. After a short set from teal-haired rapper Sharaya J, Missy Elliott closed out the evening.
Taking the stage in leather pants and a bedazzled pullover, the artist performed “Lose Control,” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “Work It.” As confetti rained down once more, the crowd did exactly that.
Game over. Well played, Wang.