When Alexander Wang was appointed artistic director at Balenciaga one year ago, the brand had just lost its New York boutique (in far West Chelsea) to the floodwaters of Sandy. This week, on November 22, Wang opens a new Balenciaga flagship on Mercer Street in Soho—the first in what will be a global overhaul of all Balenciaga stores. It’s a great, big, glamorous place, all deep-green marble (the color of overripe late-summer trees) and soaring skylights, and it feels simultaneously like Wang (he designed it in collaboration with Ryan Korban, who worked on Wang’s eponymous store, too) and the grand old house of Balenciaga. Wang is working with the brand’s traditional shapes—cocoon coats, bracelet sleeves—and adding his own sporty, streetwear energy, so the store bears the qualities of being at once rooted and new. He says of his design ethos, whether it applies to clothing or to spaces, “My question is always, ‘Does it need this?’, which results in a certain austerity that I like.”
*This article originally appeared in the November 25, 2013 issue ofNew York Magazine.