Wang’s Balenciaga debut star draw at Paris fashion week

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The city will play host to 89 shows or presentations of autumn/winter 2013/14 fashion.

The week will kick off with three shows on the first day by Belgian designers Veronique Branquinho, Cedric Charlier and Anthony Vaccarello.

But the most anticipated event will be on Thursday when Wang unveils his first collection for Balenciaga, the illustrious avant-garde fashion house founded in 1919 and now one of the jewels in the crown of the PPR luxury group.

Balenciaga announced the appointment last December of Wang as its top designer, replacing Nicolas Ghesquiere at the helm of the French fashion house.

One of the hottest names in US fashion, Wang was handed responsibility for designing the brand’s women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessory collections, as well as for Balenciaga’s image.

The 28-year-old, born in California to Taiwanese parents, has also continued his independent New York-based house alongside his Balenciaga duties.

Launched in 2007, his own label has around 200 shops in the United States, specialising in relaxed chic with a streetwise edge.

PPR took the fashion world by surprise by announcing the departure of Frenchman Ghesquiere, its designer of 15 years. During his time there, he had put the house founded by Spaniard Cristobal Balenciaga in 1919 back on the fashion map.

PPR, whose fashion labels include Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, has owned Balenciaga since 2001.

Industry experts suggested the choice of Wang, who speaks Mandarin and whose own-name brand has been pushing into Asia, could signal a willingness to focus on the vast Chinese market, building on PPR’s strong presence in the region.

Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane, meanwhile, will each present keenly anticipated second collections for Dior and Saint Laurent respectively.

Slimane will be especially closely watched after his first show paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent, but without really making his own mark. His Saint Laurent menswear collection in January also failed to grip the fashion world.

Another not-to-be missed show will be that of Emanuel Ungaro after a period of uncertainty, notably including a collaboration with Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan.

A partnership has been signed with the Italian firm Aeffe which produces and distributes numerous luxury labels and a new artistic director, the Italian Fausto Puglisi, has been named.

Also attracting interest will be the Sonia Rykiel show. The fashion house’s artistic director since September has been Canadian Geraldo da Conceicao.

The move, which left the Rykiel family with a 20 percent stake, followed the acquisition a year ago of the brand by Hong Kong investors Victor and William Fung through their Fungs Brands company.

About a dozen up and coming designers including Celine Meteil, Christine Phung, Christophe Josse, and Yiqing Yin will show their creations through the so-called “Designers Apartment”, an alternative to costly individual shows, organised by the French Federation of Couture.

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