Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Balenciaga Saga

This is one that I am going to struggle to make clear, but what the hell is going on at Balenciaga? What a way to perpertuate the perceived dramatic mayhem of the fashion industry! Can no fashion house replace a creative director without a newspaper fabricating a story or someone yelling anti-Semitic rants? Considering the answer to this question a resounding "no" I shall take what I am given and try to analyse the situation as best as I can.

For those unfamiliar. French luxury fashion label Balenciaga, famed for its leather goods and cool, clean look of its ready-to-wear collections, has been under the creative control of Nicholas Ghesquière for the past 15 years. In that time the brand has undoubtedly been successfully strengthened. The PPR owned fashion house has become a highly covetable brand that holds an exclusive reputation untainted by excessive counterfeiting or association with the wrong type of consumer (à la Burberry and the chavs). The core aim of luxury brands is to be aspirational, and Balenciaga radiates this quality with fervour.

Look 9 from Balenciaga SS13 show
Nicholas Ghesquière
So the news breaks that Ghesquière is to leave Balenciaga, the news is surprising and out of the blue, the industry is shocked. From here rumours fly about who is to succeed him. Many names are debated until French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur states that Christopher Kane has accepted the role. Cue excitement and countless tweets of congratulations until yesterday when it is published that the claims are false and Kane is forced to officially deny claims of a new job. Throw in the fact that Kane confirmed he is departing Versus, the sister line of Versace where Kane has been the designer since 2009 and you just about have yourselves an Eastenders episode.

We are still none the wiser as to Ghesquière's successor's identity which, in a world where information is generally available in a heartbeat is rather frustrating. Now, why do I care so much? Some of you will be thinking "This guy needs a life, its really not that big a deal". And on one level you are completely correct however a creative director has such direct impact on the success and ultimately sales of a brand that in business and economic terms the decision is of paramount importance. By extension any replacement cannot simply come on board and change everything in sight. The luxury fashion industry is a peculiar beast that is much more fragile than high street fashion. Consider the likes of Topshop a reenforced metal aircraft hangar while Céline or Bottega Veneta are by comparison crystal champagne flutes. A slight upset can shatter a brand as their customer base is considerably smaller and by definition much more demanding.

Alexander Wang SS13 show
Christopher Kane


Alexander Wang

Therefore, I am unashamedly excited about discovering who will take the creative helm at Balenciaga. I feel that Alexander Wang would be a fantastic option. The American/Chinese designer has had phenomenal success with his eponymous line and diffusion line T by Alexander Wang by tapping a niche for luxury casual wear that is simple and unmarked. Wang's style would be undoubtedly different to Ghesquière's yet sleek and clean enough to adhere to the Balenciaga credo. My hopes are with him, how about you?

I will keep you posted on the outcome.



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