Leaving Balenciaga. Arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Nicolas Ghesquière is the new artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton, reports Women’s Wear Daily. The position has been open since Marc Jacobs — the celebrated American designer who sat at the helm of the design house for 16 years — stepped down before the 2014 ready-to-wear runway show in Paris in October.
Since Ghesquière’s abrupt departure from Balenciaga last November, there has been much speculation over his next move. In May, System magazine published an exclusive tell-all interview with the designer, in which he detailed the challenges he faced while working under parent company Kering.
In the interview, the designer confessed, “I began to feel as though I was sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things.” Ghesquière’s indiscretion violated his separation agreement, and Kering filed a lawsuit to cover damages to the brand. (TDB)
Despite bitter endings, the designer’s 15-year term at Balenciaga was defined as a phenomenal success. As early as 2001, Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune said, “Nicolas Ghesquière is the most intriguing and original designer of his generation. His collections are explorations of shape, volume, and embellishment that seem totally new—yet reflect in a glancing, abstract way the style of the iconic design house that shelters him.” (TDB)
His work amassed such a cult following that it inspired the pertinent (now-defunct) Tumblr, Balenciaga Did It First, and his exacting mix of sportswear, tailoring, and shapes cut with couture-like precision defined the fashion landscape for many seasons. The fashion world largely has Ghesquière to thank for popularizing everything from bra tops and sculpted sleeves (although Cristobal Balenciaga did do that first), to graphic slogan sweaters—like those from the Balenciaga Fall 2012 collection that still remain the most photographed street style look in recent memory. (TDB)
That is a quality Ghesquière and his predecessor, Jacobs, have in common. Jacobs launched ready-to-wear for the luxury house and, during his 16-year career, helped build the booming business that is now defined as LVMH’s “cash cow.” It was also during Jacobs’s time that Louis Vuitton was at the forefront of logomania, which, despite hefty price tags, inspired mass-market appeal and copycats across the globe. (TDB)
It’s probable that Ghesquière, whose approach to womenswear recalls that of studied couturiers, will focus on instilling a more elite sensibility to the collections and the brand at large. It poses the question: will the spectacular Louis Vuitton presentations at Paris Fashion Week be a thing of the past? The media has come to anticipate fantastical sets, not to mention generous ticket allocations, at the Louis Vuitton shows. But, large-scale events and theatrics are not Ghesquière’s way: he prefers intimate, more traditional presentations. (TDB)
Regardless, the new artistic director will assuredly take the brand (which celebrates its 160th anniversary next year) to an exciting new place—it’s sure to be an interesting ride come March. (TDB)
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