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Wang goes for 'modern elegance' in Balenciaga debut at Paris fashion

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New York fashion star Alexander Wang on Thursday presented his much anticipated first show for Balenciaga with a collection praised as "elegance, modernity (and) structure", as India's Manish Arora took prints to new heights.

In one of the shows of the week, Wang paid homage to founder Cristobal Balenciaga in what he modestly described as a "prologue".

Wang, one of the hottest names in US fashion who also has his own label, was announced last December as the replacement for Nicolas Ghesquiere whose surprise departure came after 15 years with the French fashion house.

The black and white dominated collection featured sleek, streamlined silhouettes with narrow ankle-length pants and knee-length skirts cut higher at the front.

Speaking to reporters on day three of Paris fashion week, Wang said his collection aimed to appeal to women of all backgrounds.

"It's a global mindset. I have always had that intention in dressing. It's an attitude, it's a sensibility. It's never defined by a certain age, a certain background," he said.

"Balenciaga had such a multicultural background, coming from Spanish roots, but being a Parisian house. That in itself is already such a global way of thinking," he added.

Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of PPR, the luxury group that owns Balenciaga said Wang had excelled in producing a collection under huge pressure.

The illustrious fashion house was founded in 1919 and is now one of the jewels in the PPR crown.

"It's exceptional. He has an intimate knowledge of the label in such a short period. Even I was surprised, he arrived in December!" said Pinault.

Asked to sum up the collection in a few words, he said simply: "Elegance, modernity, structure."

The 29-year-old Wang, born in California to Taiwanese parents, has also continued his independent New York-based house alongside his Balenciaga duties.

Launched in 2007, the highly-successful label specialises in relaxed chic with a streetwise edge.

Arora, meanwhile, took inspiration for his collection from a visit to Nevada's Burning Man festival in the US state's Black Rock Desert.

The annual festival, which takes its name from the burning of a large wooden effigy, has its origin in a summer solstice ritual.

Arora's prints progressed from the "vast day landscape... moving to evening clouds mixed with neon motifs and a play of geometric lines with neon rays", the house said in a statement.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of Indian-inspired sequin embroidery and beading.

"I didn't want to forget that I'm Indian," he told AFP after the show. "I wanted to continue it (the Indian influence) but not so obviously, keeping the Indian touch in bits and pieces.

"Showing India in a cliched way is done already, (now) it's about doing leather turbans with accessories, that was the idea to combine old techniques with new futuristic designs," he added.

Other looks standing out included a mustard pencil skirt and jacket with black embellishments and body-hugging green dress draped with chains.

Paris is playing host to nearly 90 autumn/winter 2013/14 ready-to-wear collections and presentations over nine days, wrapping up on March 6.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/wang-goes-modern-elegance-balenciaga-debut-at-paris-fashion-0