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PARTY OVER FOR ALEX WANG

DESIGNER IS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ON THE CLUB SCENE

- By Elizabeth Paton and Jessica Testa

There was a time when Alexander Wang threw the wildest and weirdest parties of New York Fashion Week. He built adult playground­s inspired by carnivals and frat houses, catered by Hooters and McDonald’s, hosted at gas stations and filled with pole dancers, where uninhibite­d celebritie­s took home rolling papers as party favours.

Today the designer is at a crossroads. A number of people have accused him of sexual misconduct, often at parties or nightclubs. Most of the claims were made anonymousl­y on social media. Now, high-profile victims’ rights lawyer Lisa Bloom told The New York Times she is representi­ng 10 men with allegation­s against Wang and his company.

Wang has promised to defend his reputation vigorously, calling the allegation­s lies — “baseless and grotesquel­y false” in a statement released on New Year’s Eve.

So far no legal action has been taken by Bloom or Wang. “I never engaged in the atrocious behaviour described and would never conduct myself in the manner that’s been alleged,” Wang said in the statement.

Wang has since gone quiet, hiring at least two high-profile lawyers of his own, Eric M. George and Andrew B. Brettler, while continuing to oversee his company.

On February 12, for the first time in six weeks, the official Alexander Wang Instagram account posted something new to its feed: an animated video celebratin­g the Lunar New Year.

That post came a few days before the start of New York Fashion Week, which Wang, 37, hasn’t participat­ed in since 2018. Wang made his runway shows into democratic, public experience­s and built a fashion empire

“I never engaged in the atrocious behaviour described and would never conduct myself in the manner.”

ALEXANDER WANG★ Designer

around partying. With $350 T-shirts and ripped denim, he outfitted Manhattan’s cool kids; his entourage, the Wang Gang, was staffed with waiflike and dishevelle­d women, rarely seen without their smudged eyeliner and Alexander Wang leather jackets. “He was always known as very personable and profession­al, and also a big partier — but look, that’s normal for fashion,” said fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone. “It is considered pretty normal after fashion week to pound to the ground, with very, very, very late nights.” The accusation­s against Wang come at a moment when people seem to have more license to speak up about mistreatme­nt and harassment. The style of partying he and others in fashion were known for is no longer universall­y celebrated, but instead is often interrogat­ed as a playground for predatory behaviour. The 10 men represente­d by Bloom include David Casavant, a 30-year-old fashion stylist and fashion archivist who occasional­ly worked with Wang profession­ally and also encountere­d him socially at parties and clubs. In January 2017, Casavant was at the Good Room, a Brooklyn club when, he said, Wang approached him and pulled down his pants and underwear. A friend standing next to Casavant confirmed the incident to The Times.

“I was so apparently in a vulnerable state,” said Casavant, who was drunk at the time and believed Wang’s intention was to “humiliate” him; he also accused Wang of trying to undress him on earlier occasions at a club. “Even if it’s at a party late at night, I don’t think that’s normal behaviour.” According to a letter to The Times from George, one of Wang’s lawyers, the designer denied ever pulling down Casavant’s pants and underwear. That letter attempted to discredit Casavant and said he had an “irrefutabl­e yearslong personal animus toward Mr. Wang.” Two examples of that animus, the letter said, include Casavant once accusing Wang of “ruining Balenciaga,” and Casavant once, at the Good Room, invading Wang’s booth and refusing to leave. Bloom, Casavant’s lawyer, said in response: “Mr. Casavant stands by his account. Mr. Wang’s ridiculous personal attacks on him say more about Mr. Wang than they do about him.” In late December, Casavant watched as stories about Wang’s partying circulated on social media. Most were anonymous, amplified by Diet Prada and another Instagram account dedicated to exposing the inner workings of the modelling industry. But other accusers identified themselves. On TikTok, Owen Mooney, a model, accused Wang of groping him at a club in 2017. Gia Garison, another model, told The Guardian that the designer tried to pull her underwear down at a club in the same year. In his letter, George said Casavant’s claims were “prepostero­us” and had been “copied” from Mooney’s statements. Casavant decided to publicly come forward after Wang issued his New Year’s Eve statement, in which he said, “seeing these lies about me being perpetuate­d as truths has been infuriatin­g.” “I didn’t like the idea that people could be branded as liars who weren’t,” Casavant said. “I didn’t feel a necessary response from the fashion industry about it. Which I can understand — I get it, they were mainly anonymous, so that’s fine. But here I am. I’m sitting in front of you. I’m saying who I am. I’m not anonymous anymore.” Fashion has its share of #MeToo stories, with many revolving around photograph­ers, not necessaril­y designers. But some people, including Cutrone, believe that the industry, notorious for enabling bad behaviour, continues to lag other industries in addressing its failings around sexual misconduct. “I am actually surprised at how quiet fashion continues to be in its response to so many allegation­s,” she said. “It’s a profession where boundaries are very blurred.” She noted that fashion brands still use vulgar sexual terms to describe certain looks, and that “people turn the other way.”

 ?? Photos by New York Times ?? Designer Alexander Wang with model Bella Hadid at Wang’s post-fashion show party at a warehouse in New York, September 10, 2017.
Photos by New York Times Designer Alexander Wang with model Bella Hadid at Wang’s post-fashion show party at a warehouse in New York, September 10, 2017.
 ??  ?? Trina and Alex Wang onstage at Wang’s Big Trouble in Little China(town) fashion week party in New York, February 9, 2019.
Trina and Alex Wang onstage at Wang’s Big Trouble in Little China(town) fashion week party in New York, February 9, 2019.
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 ??  ?? Fashion stylist and archivist David Casavant, one of the people who have accused Wang of misconduct.
Fashion stylist and archivist David Casavant, one of the people who have accused Wang of misconduct.

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