Alexander Wang has unveiled his first collection of bags for Balenciaga – and there’s not a signature stud in sight. His Le Dix designs are all smooth, supple leather, minimalist hardware and sharp corners, in suitably sophisticated shades of Forest Green, Pearl Grey and Black. Complete with skinny straps and luggage tags there might be a hint of schoolyard satchel about them, but these bags are entirely grown up.
It’s only a handful of designs but it’s enough for Wang to seriously mark out his plans for Balenciaga. His predecessor, Nicolas Ghesquiere, tended to use studs and urban-inspired embellishments – a lot like Wang does with his eponymous label. So it seems like the new Creative Director has deliberately avoided designs that would earn him close comparisons to Ghesquiere or, worse, suggest that he can only come up with slouchy, studded styles. The Le Dix collection is a hint at a cleaner aesthetic and a more sophisticated side to the designer, but still pays tribute to Balenciaga’s heritage (the brand’s original address was number 10, Avenue George V).
But how do the Le Dix bags – one of the most anticipated accessory lines of the year – compare to the Alexander Wang classics that we already know and love from his own label? The metal-cornered totes, the Rocco, the Rockie and the Diego have been some of Wang’s biggest hits, so I’ve gathered them here; if you have a penchant for punchy hardware and textured leather, this reads like a wishlist.
Only Wang could take the idea of a humble gym bag and make it an effortlessly cool accessory. The relaxed duffel shape and rows of rounded studs have become instantly recognisable, and coveted everywhere. Alongside monochromatic black, white and pebble grey, fresh new-season shades are introduced twice a year to keep up with demand. Right now emerald, orange and metallic gold are all vying for attention.
This bucket style is one of Wang’s most urbanite designs – the cluster of studs and belted top make for a hefty amount of hardware. His signature tough-luxe details, combined with pebbled, blistered, matt or elephant-textured leather, transition effortlessly across the seasons but really come into their own for autumn/winter – it’s perfect for adding edge to any look.
Not restricted to any one style, Wang’s signature metal appliques mark out the corners of some of his most enviable bags. More lightweight than his studded designs, the Marion satchel and Prisma tote are particular favourites with devotees of the brand. They tend to appear in sludgy neutrals but occasionally a shot of scarlet or a python effect will creep into the collection.
Arguably the most sophisticated of Alexander Wang’s designs for his own label, the Emilie has a much more structured look than the Diego or Rocco. It’s more reminiscent of the traditional, oversized ‘it bag’ but hasn’t lost any of Wang’s downtown cool, with metallic corner details and a flared, almost winged, shape. The detachable strap means it can be slung messenger style over your shoulder for a hit of chilled-out nonchalance.