NEW YORK (AFP) - Alexander Wang, the precocious designer chosen to head the venerable Balenciaga, did not disappoint his legions of admirers at New York Fashion Week, presenting a sophisticated and occasionally humorous collection Saturday.
In the sumptuous Cunard Building down in Manhattan's financial district, the 29-year-old Californian designer of Taiwanese descent sent out about 40 models in single or two-color outfits.
The music on the runway was "Eye of the Tiger," of "Rocky" boxing film fame, but instead of Sylvester Stallone's boxing gloves, there were huge black fur mittens.
Alexander Wang's women simultaneously embodied the relaxed modern and carefully elegant looks, their hood-like grey cashmere collars part of one of the most sophisticated collections the designer has come up with in his career.
Furs were opulent, some in the form of sleeves running all the way along the arms, some encrusted with diamonds.
"It's elevating the everyday and downplaying the other," he said, explaining his lucrative ability to come up with creative, but wearable clothes.
Some fans worried that the newly promoted designer would already have adopted his new European identity, but they needn't have worried. Alexander Wang was enjoying his time in New York.
"It's an amazing feeling. The show is not over, one more stop to go," he said.
Joseph Tang, a client, said the latest collection managed to be "cool," "grunge" and "had a lot of cohesion."
Saturday was the day New York Fashion Week retrieved its confidence after being overshadowed its first two days by the monster blizzard over New England.
Ahead of Alexander Wang a futuristic Lacoste show and a stylishly militaristic vision from Prabal Gurung impressed on the catwalks.
Organizers at Prabal Gurung were in buoyant mood as the sun came out again.
"It was just a tempest in a teapot! Everyone was scared and in the end everyone turned up on time. There are 10 cm of snow in the streets of Manhattan and that's it," said Etienne Russo, founder of Villa Eugenie.
Gurung's models came dressed not just for winter, but worse, wearing powerful-looking military style boots, albeit with golden heels. Above, they wore khaki, which appears to be emerging as a trend this season, and navy blue and scarlet.
"Navy blue and army green and sky high metallic heels and harnesses. Yep, this means war. And he's winning," a fashion blogger Tweeted.
Dressing his models in long, asymmetric, diamond-studded silk dresses with partially bare backs, Gurung was taking no prisoners.
He told AFP his goal was about "empowerment and advancement, invention."
He recalled that the US military had redesigned male uniforms for women, "so that idea set me thinking about what does it means to be empowered as a woman."
"The khaki," he said, "I was feeling it... It was just because of the theme of the story."
Lacoste may have the ancient-looking crocodile as its symbol, but Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista's models were "sent into the future," he said.
"Oh's" and "ah's" spread as huge doors released the first model striding out in sculptural, tightly controlled lines.
There was more green, but also electric blue and bright orange vying for supremacy with the wintery whites and grays. Extra round shoulders offered soft shelter.
"It's very good Lacoste, very good, very updated in the use of materials and volumes," said Tancrede de Lalun, chief fashion buyer at Printemps.
The day also saw Jill Stuart, Calla, Monique Lhuillier and Band of Outsiders collections.
New York Fashion Week's autumn-winter collection for 2013-14 features a total of more than 300 shows and presentations up to February 14.