The fashion industry has had a rather tumultuous year and, even as 2021 is just around the corner, the drama is still very much alive. I awoke this morning to reports of Alexander Wang drugging, harassing, and sexually assaulting models/people, something that seems to have been going on for years. The young, celebrated designer is known for his party-animal habits by most, but this other side of him is apparently an open secret within the industry as well. The wave of accusations began after male model Owen Mooney shared his experience in which he was groped by Wang in 2017, inspiring countless other confessions of unfortunate meetings with the beloved designer. Victim after victim and confession after confession, I have spent my morning reading through the seemingly-endless accounts of Wang’s disgusting behavior and have found myself shocked and disappointed.
Alexander Wang has been one of my favorite New York designers for years. The “anything goes” vibe that is shown in his collections has always been very exciting to watch and offered a fresh, fun approach to the increasingly old-person energy of NYFW (oops). His FW 16/17 and SS 18 collections have been some of my favorites, as they emulate the hard partying, grunge esthetic of the 90’s. There has always been a level of practicality among the collections and an intense energy at Wangs shows and, of course, afterparties so it is incredibly shocking to hear the things that have gone on behind the scenes, especially considering his fun-loving, humble persona. Over the years I have watched countless interviews and videos of Alex, and sort of fell in love with his energy. Me and so many others fell into this little trap of his false, calculated image and I sort of feel guilty- what if my devoted support to Wang contributed to the disregard to past accusations towards him?
In addition to the surprise and disappointment we are all feeling towards Wang, this situation also draws the question of privilege in the industry. It is no secret that the modeling industry is incredibly toxic and shady, so it is no surprise that it took so long to garner major attention on this issue. Famous models and people in fashion were not the ones being targeted by Alex, obviously, so they were not the ones speaking out. But, if this was such an open, known thing in the industry I am curious as to who all knew. The naive, hopeful part of me wants to believe that none of my favorite models knew of his behavior and are just now finding out with the rest of us, but the other realistic side of me assumes that to be false. If the fashion industry were high school, Alex would be the quirky, artistic, funny kid that everyone loved- AKA, he’s popular in the industry. Everyone is his friend, everyone goes to his parties, and everyone wears his clothes, including the Hadids, Jenners, etc. I would be incredibly disappointed to learn that so many people in the industry knew what has been happening and just allowed it to continue since they weren’t being affected. This whole situation highlights the affect of privilege in the industry in regard to class, wealth, fame, and gender. Alexander Wang used his power and influence to harass and assault young people, and everyone else in the industry used theirs to allow this behavior to continue to happen.
The modeling industry has been overcome by discrimination and controversy for decades, and this is just another situation in which Trans people have been targeted. Accusations against Wang have displayed a clear pattern of involving Trans men and women which is disgusting and a clear abuse of Wang’s LGBTQ advocacy. There is not enough protection for trans models in the industry and I hope this situation finally leads to the long overdue change. Looking through his social media posts and other celebrities’ comments on Wang, there were so many signs of his predatory behavior and I feel embarrassed to have missed them and been fooled by who he portrayed himself to be. He clearly has no shame, considering the hefty number of accusations and stories victims have been telling, which is sickening. He knew what he was doing and believed he would see no consequences and it is important for his mentality to be proven wrong. I am curious to see what Wang and other people have to say about this situation, and wonder how his success as a designer will be affected. Hopefully, he will not continue to have the influence and presence in fashion that he does now, and the industry sees the change it has been needing for far too long. I will not be able to support someone who so shamelessly targeted and abused people with complete disregard to how his actions would make them feel.