“I guess you have the address,” Alexander Wang’s press director wrote in an e-mail confirming my appointment at the designer’s new apartment. I did, not that I needed it. My feet knew how to walk there. The following Friday I rang and waited at what for 15 years had been my own front door. Wang buzzed me in. Four o’clock—the mail should be here by now, I thought as I passed the boxes on my way to the elevator. During its slow ascent I listened to the turn of the gears; I knew their rhythm by heart. And then the door opened, and my déjà vu abruptly ended.
“Welcome to your apartment!” Wang greeted me, as if I were just returning from a long vacation and he had redecorated in my absence. In fact, I had sold him my loft eight months before. Standing in the place where my pantry used to be, I took in the scene: white walls, black velvet couch, black Karl Springer coffee table, black crocodile dining chairs, black Serge Mouille floor lamps, a pair of chairs covered in black goat fur, zebra rugs, a black fox throw. An entire black menagerie seemed to have given their lives for the privilege of a place in the home of New York’s hottest downtown fashion designer. “Well,” Wang corrected himself, “my apartment.” In keeping with the no-color scheme, he was wearing a white T-shirt and black jeans, which confirmed the impression that his outlook on life and the world brooks no ambiguity.
Accompanied by his decorator, Ryan Korban, Wang led me on a tour. This loft, they claim, is the most personal expression so far of the visual “language” the pair have formulated over the course of five years and two apartments, Wang’s showroom and first store, and the shop-within-shops that serve as worldwide outposts for his brand. “Very rich, very luxe” is Korban’s verdict on the result.
Their collaboration was founded on a friendship dating back to their years in college (Korban at the New School; Wang at Parsons) and solidified by parallel paths in their chosen careers. “Ryan never had formal training in interior design and architecture,” Wang says. “And when I started my line, I didn’t have formal training or experience in fashion, so we shared a lot of the obstacles in setting up our own businesses and breaking into a world we felt was foreign to us. We had our own ideals and ideas about ways of doing things.”
For Korban, those ideals came from fashion. “The sexiness and the youthfulness—that’s what gets me excited,” he says. “Even the people at the top in fashion, even though they’re older, I see their desire to be sexy and young, and I feel that is lacking in the interiors world. I’m trying to bring a sexiness to everything I do.”