Designer Alexander Wang leaves fashion house Balenciaga after 3 years, to focus on own brand



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PARIS — Designer Alexander Wang will leave the helm of Balenciaga after three years as creative director, the Paris fashion house confirmed Friday.

Wang will present his last womenswear collection for Balenciaga at the ready-to-wear Paris shows this October. The announcement confirmed rumors that the company would not renew its contract with the 31-year-old American designer, who launched an eponymous label as a teen but has had little time to make an enduring impression at the fashion house that once dressed Spanish aristocrats.

Neither Balenciaga nor Wang explained the split. Wang's tenure saw good sales, but the New-York based designer hinted in the Balenciaga statement that he wants to take his own brand "to its next level of growth."

Wang jumped to the top of the fashion world after winning the 2008 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Best known for his sleek, casual aesthetic, he injected street-style urbanity into the 97-year-old Balenciaga.

Wang's predecessor Nicolas Ghesquiere abruptly left Balenciaga in November 2012 for Louis Vuitton. After taking over, Wang divided his time between Paris and New York, where he had launched the Alexander Wang label in 2005 at age 19.

Founder Cristobal Balenciaga grew up in a Spanish Basque fishing village and opened his first boutique in 1919. He went on to become one of the most revered designers of the 20th century. Balenciaga has yet to name Wang's successor to lead the storied fashion house now owned by the French conglomerate Kering. It said it will make the announcement "in due course."

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