He was at the helm of French fashion house Balenciaga for 15 years, before the brand made a shock announcement in November last year that Nicolas Ghesquière was parting ways with the company. Since then the designer's successor Alexander Wang made his hotly anticipated debut for the house, but Ghesquière's had yet to speak out about his decision to leave the coveted fashion role. Until now! Business of Fashion have today obtained an exclusive excerpt of an interview the French designer granted to System magazine in which he lets rip about the issues and unhappiness which led to his departure from a job he'd held since he was 25 years old.
Ghesquière, who has dressed stars from Kristen Stewart to Julianne Moore, and was renowned for his devotion to the house and founder Cristóbal Balenciaga's legacy, explained how he felt that the people around him were unable to grasp his creative vision for the brand because they failed to understand fashion and that he was left to work alone, juggling the design, merchandise and commercial tasks of running Balenciaga.
See highlights from the interview below...
1. He positioned Balenciaga at the same level as Chanel and Prada
'For me, Balenciaga has a history that is just as important as that of Chanel, even if it’s a lesser-known name. It had the modernity, it was contemporary, and I’ve always positioned it as a little Chanel or Prada.'
2. But he was upset that Balenciaga was becoming like any other house
'The thing that I’m most proud of is that Balenciaga has become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore.'
3. He had to juggle designing with merchandising
'Although the catwalk was extremely rich in ideas and products, there was no follow-up merchandising. With just one jacket we could have triggered whole commercial strategies. It’s what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t do everything. I was switching between the designs for the catwalk and the merchandisable pieces – I became Mr Merchandiser. There was never a merchandiser at Balenciaga, which I regret terribly.'
4. He felt like colleagues at Balenciaga didn't understand fashion
'There are people I’ve worked with who have never understood how fashion works. They keep saying they love fashion, yet they’ve never actually grasped that this isn’t yoghurt or a piece of furniture – products in the purest sense of the term. They just don’t understand the process at all, and so now they’re transforming it into something much more reproducible and flat.'
5. There are other designers out there in his position
'What’s interesting is how my split from Balenciaga has encouraged people to get in touch with me, and they’ve said, ‘Me too, I’m in the same situation. I want to leave too.’'
6. He was thrilled with the support from the industry - especially on twitter
'I haven’t expressed myself up until now, but I would like to say thank you to everyone, I really am very grateful.'
7. He's currently preparing for the next chapter in his career
'I’m regenerating again, and that’s very exciting because it’s a feeling I haven’t had since I was in my twenties.'
Take a look at our gallery of Nicolas' friend and muse Kristen Stewart in his designs: