Nicolas Ghesquire

For someone who has been credited as "the most important designer of his generation" by Times New York, "fashion's most sought-after and influential figure" by American Vogue, "the most intriguing and original designer of his generation ... the hippest, hottest, most sought-after creator by fashion aficionados" by the International Herald Tribune, and also known by most as the name who revived the House of Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquiere was a mere 26 when he was promoted to being the Director of the House of Balenciaga in 1997. And there has been no looking back for the French born.

Born 1971 in Comines, Nord-Pas de Calais, France, Ghesquiere announced his ambition of being a fashion designer at the age of 12. He pertinaciously did internships during his school holidays, starting out with French designer Agnes B. at the age of 14. After finishing with his schooling Ghesquiere assisted Jean-Paul Gaultier from 1992-94. He eventually joined the then failing Balenciaga doing licensing and designing for the Asian Market.

Nicolas made his debut “Le Dix ready-to-wear” in 1997, on the Paris catwalk, with not a very large audience, but his strong collection, reminiscent of the Balenciaga's legacy, made sure of his long lasting allegiance with the fashion press. He had made his mark with
*blousons on linked circles, apron tunics and batwing tops. There were sheer high-necked dresses with flowing skirts. His first collection was for the Spring/Summer 1998. Pitted against the likes of Alexander Mc queen, John Galliano at Dior and Marc Jacobs, he had a tricky start in the industry. But, it wasn’t long before he started getting rave reviews from the press and his signature cut pencil pants were seen on the likes of Nicole Kidman, Chloe Sevigny, Kate Moss, and Gwyneth Paltrow. At the turn of the millennium, with seven collections already on the ramp, it was a different story all together. He was offered support, security and logistics by Gucci, which bought the house of Balenciaga in early 2001. That was then, and today he is known for being able to influence fashion and starting new trends with his ingenuity in design, much like the founder, the Basque designer Cristobal Balenciaga himself in the early part of the 20th century.

His signature looks have a dramatic shoulder, be it the rounded batwing or a voluminous style of the 80’s. A style, that, he attributes to him being a “child of the 80’s”. His famous pencil thin skinny pants are probably the ‘sexiest trousers’ in the world, some say, and have hugely influenced the contemporary look in this decade. Despite using influences of the past, Nicolas has been very futuristic in his approach to design. He looks to the future in his sharply tailored dressed in techno materials like patent leather or embroidered latex, or even in the gold “robot” leggings.

"What interests me about a garment is the 'transformation,"' he says. "The process of turning an idea into something specific and concrete."

Nicolas has been compared to the likes of Yves Saint-Laurent in his ability to understand and make fashion rather than meeting to the people’s needs. As they say, he has an uncanny knack of knowing what you want to wear before you actually imagine buying it. In October of 2000 he was felicitated as the Avant-Garde designer of the year at the VHI/Vogue fashion awards. And a year later he was named the Women’s wear Designer of the Year by the CFDA. In 2005 he was listed in the Time’s 100 Most Influential People. In January last year, he was made the Chevalier of Arts and Letters, the highest arts accolade one can receive from the French government.

Under Ghesquière, The House of Balenciaga has now expanded into Menswear and they plan to focus on the range of accessories, handbags and shoes that they have recently come up with. His focus is building the House into a powerhouse brand and today his line is also famous for its motorcycle inspired handbags, especially the “Lariat”. Not only that, Ghesquière launched the Capsule collection in 2005 to make a profit, of its most popular designs. The collection has got the revenues that the house needed at that point. Made without costly embellishments, these are lower priced but high on revenue.

True to form, the Balenciaga Spring Summer 2009 collection is heavy on the futurism. There is a synthesis of style lines and cut and intricate patterns with ultramodern surfaces. The designs were juxtaposed with silver lurex over the skin to swathe the hands and legs. Ghesquière’s intellect in design is how he can integrate couture and new technology. The spring summer 2009 collection, with its asymmetric combination of drape and structure, is just that. The fine metallic crinkle pleated jackets and high-spec suede pieces in the middle gave way to the finale of dresses cut in shimmering gold, silver, green, pewter and pink ribbon.  Ghesquière experiments with fabric and cut to the highest order and has a great sense of detail which makes this quiet man a revolution in millennium. Its his ability to know fashion as his own child that makes him so exceptional. He has just begun to surprise the industry with his innate ability to make fashion. There is long way to go.
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About Aparna Mudi

Aparna is a fashion graduate from NIFT, New Delhi. She has a passion for writing about everything under the sun, especially about fashion and lifestyle.

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