Murmurs of a nineties revival have been gaining volume over the past few seasons - and it's designers of Alexander Wang's generation who are turning back to their childhood memories of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, Jennifer Aniston in Friends and Neve Campbell in The Craft to mine a whole new set of fashion reference points. Thus informed, it is easy to pick apart the influences behind Alexander Wang's A/W 2010 collection, which is perhaps the most obvious example of this new mood in fashion.
Wang said he was thinking about tailoring - Wall Street suiting specifically - and about slicing apart the classic components of bespoke menswear and reconfiguring them. Wang literally took to the scissor, chopping up besom pockets, button plackets and the flaps and flanges of Saville Row and jigsawing them back together like a fashion Frankenstein to create the show's sharpest looks. Suiting was short and sharp in gabardine and pinstripe wools, jackets cleaved away above the ribs and skirts and shorts lacerated mere inches from the crotch. In a departure for Wang, this suiting segued into unmistakable eveningwear - pearl-embroidered, lace and lots and lots of velvet. It felt like Wang was really pushing himself to do something new and different - and as with all new ventures, some of it worked (a few spectacular draped cocktail dresses that could give Lanvin a run for its money), and some didn't - a little too much puckered panne ended up as more of a rich-bitch in-joke than a genuine statement about contemporary luxe. Wang talked about playing with the collection like pieces in a puzzle - and puzzling certainly was the word when topsy-turvy mashing of references meant skirts were tricked out with lapels and blazer button details, while jackets had trouser welt pockets and fly details. Although proportions shot up into boleros and minis or down into maxicoats and midis, the midriff was almost invariably bared (another nineties staple), with peekaboo games played with splicing out chunks around the hip to leave a back-buckled leather belt standing proud.
Brave as it was, this collection felt lacking a little in the universal appeal that has become something of a Wang leitmotif - wool crop-tops, knee-high knit-gaiters and self-fabric backpacks (shades of Cher Horowitz, anyone?) were very graphic, very strong, but inevitably very very young. Likewise, you have to be young to want to wear most of these clothes, reminiscent as they are of a past recently lived through for the first time. For the older Wang customer, there were a few standout must-haves: a pair of camelhair coat-capes with lopped-off sleeves slung over trousers and button-down shirts had an urgent, 'got-to-have-it' appeal many brands would kill for. Ditto the accessories - already 30% of Wang's turnover, his boxy calfskin bags, hefty metal-detailed clutches and clunky ankle boots with cylindrical heel and concealed platform look set to set that figure rocketing up, up, up.