The fashion world was shocked last week by news that designer Nicolas Ghesquière would be leaving his post as artistic director at Balenciaga, which is owned by French luxury conglomerate PPR. Francois-Henri Pinault, the chairman and CEO of the group, said in a statement that, “with an incomparable creative talent, Nicolas has brought to Balenciaga an artistic contribution essential to the unique influence of the house.” A spokesperson for the fashion house also stated that there’s currently no timeline for revealing the company’s plans for the future.
Balenciaga was founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1919 and thrived until the late 1960s. The fashion house was struggling when the designer closed it in 1968 and retired. Nicolas Ghesquière arrived at Balenciaga in 1997, soon after the brand had initially been revived. The designer was relatively unknown at the time and his appointment was questioned. He quickly caught everyone’s attention though with his futuristic designs, use of high-tech fabrics, and unique view of women. In 2006, he was named the most important designer of his generation. Once the brand was acquired by PPR in 2000, its newfound worldwide recognition and successful accessories business helped it prosper.
As the reasons behind his leaving were not clear, many were quick to weigh in on what would be next for both the luxury brand and Ghesquière. In a surprisingly normal interview a few days after the announcement, the typically outspoken Karl Lagerfeld suggested that “perhaps Nicolas wants to have his own label, which is not a bad idea.” Lagerfeld also believes that someone such as Bernard Arnault should invest in starting a new label with Ghesquière because there are already so many old labels within LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group. Arnault is the head of LVMH, which also owns fashion brands including Louis Vuitton and Céline. Lagerfeld himself is the artistic director of LVMH-owned Fendi, as well as privately owned Chanel. Karl didn’t say much more though, explaining that he is “very much against projection in the far away future.” He and his team “only think in terms of one collection after the next collection.”
Ghesquière was extremely successful in reinventing the aesthetic of Balenciaga and bringing the outdated brand into modern times. He has displayed his immense talent over the past 15 years at the helm of the brand and is sure to succeed no matter what he does next. We’ll be watching closely to see just what that step is!
Shop some of Nicolas Ghesquière’s breathtaking last pieces for Balenciaga, as well as the pieces Karl Lagerfeld has designed for his brands!