Zac Posen woos the 'voracious' woman at Paris shows

Backstage after his show on day three of the Paris pret-a-porter collections on Thursday, Zac Posen summed up the kind of woman he dresses in four words: "Voracious, sexy, intelligent, chic.

Perhaps even something of an action comic-book character, too, judging from the uncompromising scalpel-sharp looks that he sent down the runway in a corner of the Palais de Tokyo stripped bare to the concrete.

Batgirl-like wings grew from the very low-cut back of a teal metamorphosis dress, while a black crocodile and stretch leather strapless dress looked perfect for tackling any evil villains who might pop up at a cocktail party.

No less intimidating was an aggressively tailored jet-black trouser suit and an equally figure-hugging oxidized sequin long-sleeve dress worthy of a outer-space science fiction heroine.

A New Yorker born and bred, Posen, 30, looking pretty sharp himself in a crisp grey suit, said he looked back to his earliest collections in preparing the show, cut the material at his studio, then finalised the outfits in Paris.

"I wanted to show a collection that was really tied to our customers' desires, to how she wears our clothing," he said. He might have added that that would have to be a customer who naturally oozes confidence.

The Paris shows hit their stride on Friday with all eyes on Christian Dior after the abrupt firing of its chief designer John Galliano, 50, who is to appear in court over alleged racist comments at a chic Parisian cafe.

Galliano's eponymous own-label show on Sunday - usually a highly theatrical event - has meanwhile been downgraded to a simpler presentation for retail buyers and fashion journalists, a source familiar with the situation said.

Working the same aesthetic as Posen was the Parisian designer Barbara Bui, who offset imaginative variations on the biker jacket with the very tightest of shiny black pants for a very leggy show at the Pavilion Concorde.

Bui drew from an exotic selection of materials that included Tibetan goat hair, silver-glossed shearling, hairy angora, wicker and something her press release described as "technical taffeta".

Bui, who designs her own footwear, completed her looks with a variety of ankle boots, both stiletto and wedge-heeled, in everything from monochrome real and patent leather to metallic anthracite suede.

In the rather novel surroundings of an indoor parking lot, Manish Arora - recently appointed to the creative helm of Paco Rabanne - entertained his guest with a riot of textures and colours at his own-label show.

"I just wanted people to have fun, to enjoy the show," said the Indian-born designer backstage, referring not only to his lively designs but also the magician who - abracadabra! - made a model appear in a glass box.

On his new job, Arora said: "Two years ago, I would not have been ready to be the artistic director of such a distinguished house (but now) I feel I am ready for Paco Rabanne."