When it comes to fashion, 2013 was the year of Wang… Alexander Wang. While his namesake creations adorned the likes of Rihanna, Joan Smalls, and Kate Moss, it was the 30-year-old’s appointment at Balenciaga that kept his name on the lips of industry insiders and thrust him into even more spotlight. Popularity aside, there’s more to this native California boy than his succession of Nicolas Ghesquière. Peel back the shroud that keeps Wang’s world—as is the case with most fashion designers—under wraps with 13 things you didn’t know about his life and times.
1. While we’re used to Wang showing during Fashion Weeks in New York and Paris, his first fashion show was at the age of 15 at his brother, Dennis’ wedding, where San Francisco’s then mayor was reportedly in attendance. Flash forward to now, and the Wang clan has kept it in the family. Dennis is the Alexander Wang brand’s chief financial advisor, while his wife, Aimie, is its chief principal officer.
2. From one D to the next: Wang attended the private, college-prep Drew School in San Francisco years before winning the 2008 Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund honor and earning wrap-dress originator Diane von Furstenberg as a mentor.
3. That wasn’t the first time Wang had encountered Lady Di. When he was 20 years old, DVF asked if he would “be willing to design some sweaters” for her label, which he politely declined.
4. Started from the bottom: Though Barneys is fully-stocked with Wang originals now, the designer first worked there in the shoe department—although it’s not clear if he forayed into retail before or after he dropped out of Parsons The New School for Design.
5. While he was enrolled at the fashion institute, he interned at Vogue, where Grace Coddington commented on his then “ashy lavender-blond” hair.
6. Keep calm and patent on. Though knockoffs of Wang’s coveted A-line sandals and “Rocco” bags abound, there’s one aspect of his designs that are legally protected: his studs.
7. Though he’s been spotted at NYC eateries like Balthazar and Sant Ambroeus, Wang doesn’t shy away from cheap cuisine. Among his favorite are Thai Son where he orders the beef pho and Hiroko’s Place where he digs into the mushroom pasta.
8. As if! His favorite movie is Clueless. When’s movie night?
9. On the television end of the spectrum, in 2007, he cited Saved By The Bell as one of his design inspirations.
10. Lauryn Hill gave a surprise performance at the opening of his first SoHo boutique. Also in attendance was Kanye West… meaning he’s been “spending everything on Alexander Wang” since at least 2011, right?!
11. Across the way from Wang’s Grand Street boutique is furniture store Flair Home Collection New York, where he once bought a vintage animal print rug.
12. One of the first fashion images to spark interest in his current métier was a Patrick Demarchelier-lensed campaign of Georgina Grenville from Tom Ford‘s era at Gucci.
13. Looking to land a job at Alexander Wang? Enroll in the BA Textile Design or MA Fashion Womenswear courses at London’s Central Saint Martins, which have been pathways to the brand’s New York offices. Perhaps Wang shows the school a little alum love; he attending a summer program there in the eighth grade.
Bonus: Because he has the most stylish niece at NYFW, here are Aila Wang‘s cutest looks!