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Alexander Wang built his aesthetic on the street; Balenciaga is a European couture house. Wang’s first couple of years at the French label have been a dialogue, sometimes difficult, between his natural instincts and those of the atelier, but he’s in the groove now. Chalk it up to the commercial imperative of the Pre-Fall season or the simple fact that he’s been at the brand for two full fashion cycles, but there was an appealing forthrightness to the clothes presented at the company’s Left Bank offices today. They looked polished without sacrificing much of their hip factor, and they weren’t trying too hard. They were, in a word, wearable, starting with a five-piece capsule—bomber, trench, Perfecto, etc.—in sheared mink.

That said, the clothes weren’t without special details, either. Jackets and other tailored separates featured “spray paint” jacquards, as if they’d been tagged by a graffiti star (that’s one way to give a suit some streetwise edge), and a pair of sleeveless bias-cut dresses came with unexpected embellishments: squiggle flocking in one case, and a row of brass buttons marching up the side seam in another. Those brass buttons were a recurring motif, and their military connotation gave pieces on which they appeared the zing of essentials. Creating desire, of course, doesn’t all come down to need. A rhinestone brooch in the shape of a cursive B was superfluous in the most fabulous way.

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