It's official! Alexander Wang is the new creative director at Balenciaga. The Parisian fashion house confirmed that the American designer will take the reins from Nicolas Ghesquière, who left the house last month after 15 years. In an official announcement released today, Isabelle Guichot, chief executive of the brand, praised Wang's 'proven talent, modernity and individual and cosmopolitan vision of design' that will 'naturally embrace and enrich the unique heritage of this fashion house which will soon be one hundred years old'. Meanwhile, Wang said he is 'deeply honoured to embark on this new role for a brand and a house that I have such great admiration and respect for.'
Wang will be one busy bee as he'll design Balenciaga's menswear, womenswear and accessories categories, as well as continuing to design for his eponymous label. The San Francisco-born designer is the first American designer to take up a role in a major Parisian house since Marc Jacobs became Louis Vuitton's creative director in 1997. So what can we expect when he steps into Ghesquière's shoes? It's certainly no mean feat, but one that we have every faith Wang will triumph.
30 November 2012: Balenciaga Prepare Announcement
Earlier this month, Grazia Daily reported that Alexander Wang is 'hot favourite' to succeed Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga. Today, on Ghesquière's last day at the French luxury brand, WWD is reporting that Wang is about to be announced as new creative director. 'The choice of Wang suggests Balenciaga might wish to dial down the elitist, couture-like approach of Ghesquière, and open up to a broader audience with a designer prized for his sportswear approach and youthful energy,' says WWD. Balenciaga and Wang have not yet confirmed the news.
06 November 2012: Alexander Wang Is 'Hot Favourite'
It was inevitable that within minutes of hearing shock news that Nicolas Ghesquière is leaving Balenciaga after 15 years, thoughts would turn to who might succeed him. Not that we're forgetting Ghesquière's triumphs at the French fashion house so easily, of course, but this is a fast-moving fashion world we live in.
As Cathy Horyn writes in her NY Times column, the French designer may have decided to leave due to his frustrations involving 'matters like financing and a more commercial tone to some of Balenciaga’s lines' and that 'his concerns were being insufficiently addressed by the PPR chairman, François-Henri Pinault.' Horyn also speculates that the freedom with which Hedi Slimane rebranded YSL (a fellow PPR label) may have been a 'source of ire' for Ghesquiere. 'Mr. Ghesquière may have disagreed with these kinds of decisions as a matter of principle,' she writes.
Then WWD ran quotes from the fashion house's CEO Isabelle Guichot, who told the newspaper that Ghesquiere's replacement would be announced 'as soon as we're ready,' adding, 'We have a short list.'
So who's on the list? The first rumour to reach Grazia's ears came from a reliable source who cited Alexander Wang as 'the hot favourite'. The 28-year-old US designer launched his first women's ready-to-wear collection in 2007 and has quickly turned his casual downtown style with a grunge vibe into a multi-million dollar business.
'Wang is the master of translating street cool into catwalk magic,' says Katherine Ormerod, Grazia's Senior Fashion News Editor. 'He has an innate sensitivity for shifts in design and culture and has remained connected to the zeitgeist even while he's developed his luxury market chops. Whether he possesses Ghesquiere's intellectual rigour is up for debate but he does have a massive following with the hipster set.'
Would Wang's hipster luxury work for Balenciaga's edgy aesthetic? For the sake of argument, we've compiled a few catwalk comparisons in the gallery above. As for us, we're still rooting for Christopher Kane.