Balmain produces this year's template for the high street

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The final round of the autumn/winter collections was well under way at Paris Fashion Week yesterday, with shows from Balenciaga, Balmain, Rick Owens and Manish Arora. With many of the industry's most influential labels showing at the event, this is the place for the cream of the world's press and buyers to get a head start on the new season's trends.

High-street bosses will also be on the look out for inspiration for their autumn/winter 2010 designs, and the Balmain show will have been the focus for much of their attention. The French label, which is now designed by Christophe Decarnin and has been worn by everyone from Victoria Beckham to Madonna, has been heavily copied by mass-market brands over the last year. First established by Pierre Balmain in 1945, the house has carved out a signature look of buttock-skimming dresses, Michael Jackson-style military jackets, huge pointy or ball-shaped shoulders and skinny trousers. The latest collection was a more feminine take on the hard military khakis of spring/summer and featured their familiar silhouettes in more opulent fabrics.

Indian designer Manish Arora also emphasised the shoulders in his collection, although it had a radically different, colourful and exuberant feel. Known for drawing on Indian craft techniques, this season he used geometric and kaleidoscopic prints.

A mood of retro futurism prevailed at Balenciaga where Nicolas Ghesquière combined his characteristic sci-fi shapes with couture-like techniques and finishings.

Paris Fashion Week continues until Wednesday and features, among others, the French houses Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Chloe, and British designers Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Stella McCartney. The late British designer Alexander McQueen's last collection will be shown in a series of small presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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