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Balenciaga’s Wake Up Call

Nicolas Ghesquière Takes His Exit —

On Novemeber 5, 2012 Nicolas Ghesquière took leave of his 15 year reign as creative director for the house of Balenciaga. Founded in 1918 by the Basque designer Cristobal Balenciaga, Balenciaga emerged as one of the great design establishments in the early decades of the twentieth century, and under the auspices of Ghesquière re-emerged as one of the greats of the twenty-first. Last year in San Francisco the de Young Museum mounted an extraordinary exhibition “Balenciaga and Spain” where three decades of sartorial genius were on display, tracing the designer’s career as it was inspired and cultivated by Spanish traditions. In his in his introduction to the catalogue Balenciaga and Spain, Vogue’s International Editor at Large, Hamish Bolwes states “Although Paris with its craftspeople and fournisseurs of brilliance, provided the ideal setting for Balenciaga to perfect his craft, it was his native Spain that cast the longest shadow.”

Perhaps Nicolas Ghesquière grew weary of being leashed his progenitor’s profile or as some speculate he grew fatigued with management’s lack of support for the brand. Whatever the impetus, PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redout) and Balenciaga will have lost one the greatest designers of his generation. No one mined the archives better or more strictly adhered to the traditions of the house than Ghesquière. All of the superlatives reserved for Cristobal’s mastery apply equally to Nicholas. Again from the Bowles’ introduction, “His fascination with the properties of cloth — its cut, construction, and embellishment — and his inventive responses to its possibilities” “…ceaseless explorations and innovations ensured that his work was intriguing and influential.”  But perhaps my favorite succinct quote for Ghesquière’s influence comes from Sally Singer’s instant debrief after the debut of his Spring 2008 Ready to Wear collection “A fantastic collection, amazing. Everybody doing corset lacing, that’s the way to do corset lacing, everybody doing flowers, that’s the way to do flowers. I mean, I think it is a real wake up call for the rest of the design world.” I would add as well that anybody looking at the architecture of clothing, the distinctive volume and power the Ghesquière silhouette is of textbook concern. He is an originator of couture techniques as well as a visionary of taste. So iconic were the pieces from this 2008 show that in 2012 Kristen Stewart is launching “Florabotanica”, Balenciaga’s latest perfume offering, sporting a dress from that collection. The work is even more relevant today than at it’s  christening.

I sit in the cheering section that hold placards appealing for a label of Ghesquière’s own. My bet is that his unparalleled talent and artistic innovation will not lie fallow for long.

Selections from Ghesquière’s Balenciaga Present and Past

Spring RTW 2013




Spring RTW 2011

Spring RTW 2008



  1. oh! oh! I hadn’t known . . .
    . . . sheer genius.
    I want all of Spring 2011.
    Awestruck at 2008.
    Where will he go?!?
    Thanks Nancy —

  2. Those are really nice creations and it will really be a good if normal people can afford these items. I wonder if there are any good deals for this too. Cheers to this.

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