Why Alexander Wang Almost Didn’t Take the Balenciaga Job

Leah Bourne

The Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAAD] recently hosted a conversation between Chairman of Tom Ford Domenico De Sole and Alexander Wang, and Wang revealed quite a few interesting tidbits about how his job as Creative Director at Balenciaga came to be.

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Photo: Getty

You’d think most designers would jump at the chance to be top dog at the legendary French house but apparently Wang wasn’t one of them—and he admitted to the crowd that he initially turned down the job. The reason that Wang wasn’t interested? He shared he was both pre-occupied with his namesake line based in New York at the time (Balenciaga meanwhile is based in Paris) and also feared following in the footsteps of former Balenciaga Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière.

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The company lured him into the post (reportedly on the advice of Vogue Editor Anna Wintour) by giving him the chance to visit the legendary couturier’s archive. In order to keep his visit a secret, “They had to shut down the security cameras,” Wang revealed. “Seeing the archive in person, as a creative person when you see something like that it puts sparks into you,” Wang shared. “It kind of just triggered me. It really inspired me to think about it.” The rest is history, Wang showed his first collection for Balenciaga in February, 2013.

Things weren’t always this rosy in Wang’s career, he shared that he had had plenty of early rejections including a showroom that declined to carry his first sweater line. “I think my heart just dropped,” Wang said. “I did not know what to do. I was completely lost, and I think that was one of the most difficult points in my life.”

As for those hoping that Wang would shed some light on what his upcoming H&M collaboration will look like, he just offered up this: “It’ll be a new approach that they haven’t done before.”

Perhaps a preview to the mayhem that will surely ensue when the collection drops in November—SCAAD students waited for hours in the rain for the chance to hear Wang speak.

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