It’s the end of (another) fashion era. In a blow that literally came out of thin air, luxury giant PPR has just announced that its brand Balenciaga and designer Nicolas Ghesquiere are parting ways. A moment of silence for the genius who created these beauties (*sigh).
The decision was described as joint, but no word yet whether it was not more one-sided than that. Rumours about town do say that Ghesquiere may have been unhappy with the discrepancy between how his grievances were being answered and the unusual freedom enjoyed by Hedi Slimane over at sister-brand YSL (I guess jealousy can happen even in the highest circles), but we should not always trust everything we hear. Two things are clear, the first being that Ghesquiere had hinted as early as last year to his ideas to move on. At his fall 2011 show, he told Style.com that he is “very happy at Balenciaga. But I also want to work on my own line. The ideal would be to do both things simultaneously”. The second clear thing is that this will not happen.
Ghesquiere has been one of fashion’s darlings, with collection after collection gathering acclaim and plenty of fans from the list of the industry’s who’s who. Since taking on the role of designer for Balenciaga in 1997, his resolute modernity has pushed him to not only revive the brand, but to literally reinvent it. Balenciaga’s key foundation was based on haute couture rigor and sculptural shapes. Ghesquiere, on the other hand, brought about a geometric and edgy sophistication that always left us longing for more. For the past 15 years, his name was so closely tied to the label that it was easy to assume that the relationship could turn into the same kind of Lagerfeld-Chanel love affair. Sadly, it was not meant to be.
Regardless of whose decision it was, leaving a brand that you’ve reshaped with your own bare/ creative hands is hard. I remember Tom Ford describing his leaving Gucci after 10 years as a divorce, not dissimilar to losing a real lover. We now have to wait and see what is in the cards next for Ghesquiere (I am very much rooting for his own line, which, given the massive extent of creative freedom he’d enjoy, I am sure would blow our minds) and, of course, who, if any, will be able to fill the master’s shoes at Balenciaga.