Balenciaga’s Alexander Wang makes his own mark

PARIS - New York golden boy Alexander Wang on Thursday stamped his own "footprint" on the fabled Balenciaga label, in one of Paris fashion week's most keenly anticipated shows.

Already among the hottest names in fashion at 29, Wang's ready-to-wear spring/summer 2014 collection followed a well-received February debut for which he delved into the archives to pay tribute to founder Cristobal Balenciaga.

Speaking backstage after the show, he said that having started with "the homage" he was now keen to use his second show to express his personality.

"I wanted to... take this season to really start putting some footprint into it, making it relatable to what I thought was important and bringing some of my vocabulary of sportswear into it," he said.

The collection in a largely blue and white palette featured thigh-skimming hemlines along with tiny, high-waisted shorts teamed with midriff-baring cropped tops.

Wang highlighted the "crushed embroidery" on many pieces.

"We loved this idea of something quite organic and uncontrollable, so every piece is different from the next," he said.

Initial reaction on Twitter was broadly positive.

"Emphatically short, relentlessly young," said fashion blog IndyFashion.

"No pants? No problem!" added Wonderland Magazine of jackets worn on their own.

Vogue, UK, saw more Balenciaga than Wang in the collection noting "classic Cristobal shapes" such as cropped and curved jackets, and adding that the collection clearly continued in the same "safe territory as the first".

"While finding his feet at the house, he's clearly working within its tried and tested framework: sportswear reimagined in a luxury way and vice versa," it said.

Born in California to Taiwanese parents, Wang launched his own label - a mix of relaxed chic and streetwise edge - in 2007 when he was just 23. The designer is seen as a prodigious talent by the fashion world with coverage of his work often laden with superlatives.

His first Balenciaga collection was "nothing short of masterful", said magazine Harper's Bazaar earlier this year, adding that in person he was "almost supernaturally beautiful".

Wang's arrival at Balenciaga in late 2012 followed the surprise departure after 15 years of Nicolas Ghesquiere, a designer considered to have very much made the house his own.

Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of PPR, the luxury group that owns Balenciaga in February praised Wang for producing his first collection under huge pressure in just eight weeks.

Elsewhere on Thursday, the Nina Ricci collection took inspiration from 18th century men's fashion which the house described as a "romantic period in men's dressing".

The back of waistcoats were transposed onto a summer jacket and classic men's shirt transformed into dresses or a skirt.

Tweeds glittered and other fabrics were embellished with mirror embroidery in a collection largely in variations of white, described as alabaster, chalk plaster, chantilly and porcelain.

The show at Paris's Tuileries gardens saw two topless women protesters run onto the catwalk although they failed to stop the show.

The women had the slogans "Fashion dictaterror" and "Model don't go to brothel" daubed on their bodies in English.

The protest came early in the show and the pair's shouts were largely drowned out by the noise of a moving rail that was in use to support a sheer curtain running along the middle of the catwalk.

Two security guards stepped onto the catwalk and forcibly removed them as the show carried on.

Nine days of women's ready-to-wear fashion for spring/summer 2014 are due to wrap up on Wednesday.