The American fashion designer Alexander Wang has denied “grotesquely false” allegations of sexual assault as grassroots advocacy sites claim that there are a high number of victims.
A British model, Owen Mooney, this week publicly claimed that Wang had groped his crotch at the nightclub Slake in New York during the promoter Ladyfag’s Holy Mountain party on 21 January 2017, following which a number of similar claims, mostly anonymous, emerged.
“I was by myself at one point and this guy next to me obviously took advantage of the fact that no one could fucking move,” Mooney, 26, alleged. “And he just started touching me up. Fully up my leg, in my crotch. It made me freeze completely because I was in so much shock.
“Then I look to my left to see who it was and it was this really famous fashion designer and I just couldn’t believe that he was doing that to me. It just made me go into even more shock. I just had to slowly move myself away.
“Now, any time I see his name mentioned or see him with celebrity best friends, it just reminds me of what he did, and it’s a really fucked-up memory to have.”
Wang’s lawyer said “it never happened” and that he “believes Mooney is mistaken about who allegedly groped him”.
Sharing Mooney’s post, the websites Diet Prada and Shit Model Management also highlighted previous social media posts that had not come to wider attention.
Wang told the Guardian: “Over the last few days, I have been on the receiving end of baseless and grotesquely false accusations. These claims have been wrongfully amplified by social media accounts infamous for posting defamatory material from undisclosed and/or anonymous sources with zero evidence or any factchecking whatsoever.”
Gia Garison, a trans model and actor, described alleged details of another incident at a Holy Mountain party at Slake in February 2017: “He tried to pull my panties down and expose my genitals in the VIP area.”
She said: “It was just another night and then I remember being introduced to Alexander Wang and then chatting to him. I just remember dancing around and he was chilling with his posse and then reached for my bikini bottoms I was wearing and tried to tug them downwards.
“I said: ‘What are you doing, what the fuck,’ and stepped away. I didn’t make much of it in the moment because I was just in club mode and tried to let things brush off my shoulder and not ruin my night … I’ve done many shoots where they’ve wanted to put me in his clothing since and I’ve just said no.” Wang’s lawyer said he “has never grabbed any woman” in the manner alleged.
A young man named Nick, who did not wish for his surname to be published, has also come forward to media with an account of a night out in New York with Wang in August 2017 after meeting him earlier in the year.
“I blacked out at one club and found him giving me a hand job,” he said. “The second time I blacked out in our Uber and woke up to getting oral from him in the car. I honestly feel so embarrassed and manipulated.” It is understood that Nick and Wang remain in contact and Wang’s lawyer said this raised questions over his testimony.
Nick Ward, who works for a construction company in New York, also claims Wang suddenly grabbed his penis, this time at the Brooklyn Mirage nightclub in the early hours of 10 September 2017.
“It was shocking,” he said. “It definitely sobered me up a bit. I was like: ‘wait, holy shit’. He grabbed me, squeezed me and kept moving forward through the club with his entourage without missing a beat.” Wang’s lawyer said he was at a fashion show until 3am on that night and could prove he was not at the nightclub on the date alleged.
Wang, 37, said: “Seeing these lies about me being perpetuated as truths has been infuriating. I have never engaged in the atrocious behaviour described and would never conduct myself in the manner that’s been alleged. I intend to get to the bottom of this and hold accountable whoever is responsible for originating these claims and viciously spreading them online.”
The Model Alliance said it stood in solidarity with Wang’s accusers and criticised a wider absence of support for victims. “The fashion industry’s lack of transparency and accountability leaves all models vulnerable to abuse, regardless of their sex or gender identity,” the statement read.
As the allegations spread on social media this week, Wang’s Instagram account was modified so that it could no longer receive comments. On Sunday, he posted a photo straddling a tree trunk on a beach.
The designer was previously criticised for casting the singer R Kelly, since exposed as a serial sex predator and facing multiple sex offence charges, in a campaign in 2017 after longstanding allegations of serious abuse.
Wang, who was born in San Francisco and moved to New York at the age of 18, became notorious for his hard-partying lifestyle and hosting events attended by A-listers as his eponymous brand grew after its founding in 2005. He was creative director at the Paris fashion house Balenciaga from 2012 to 2015.