Runway News

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nicolas Ghesquière


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Born and raised in France, Nicolas Ghesquière is one of the world’s most respected designers, an especially impressive feat given that he has no formal fashion training. A fashion prodigy, Ghesquière’s education was all on the job, starting with an internship at agnès b at age 14. By the time he was 25, he was at the helm of Balenciaga and 15 years later, he left the brand and was soon named the creative head of Louis Vuitton. While he has won many accolades over the years, including CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year, not very much is known about his personal life and he doesn’t give many interviews. To that end, here are 10 things you may not have known about the designer.

  1. One of the biggest issues for the designer when he was at Balenciaga was that there was no one helping him on the business side. He explained to The Business of Fashion that, for him, Balenciaga has a history that’s “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.” Unlike those fashion powerhouses, however, Ghesquière never felt that he had the same kind of support. “Miuccia Prada has an extraordinary partner, whereas I was doing everything by myself.”
  2. The designer was very secretive between the end of his tenure at Balenciaga and the beginning of his time at Louis Vuitton. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who appeared in Ghesquière’s first campaign for Vuitton and is a longtime friend and muse, told Vanity Fair that she remembers what it was like when the designer was between jobs. “It felt like he was in the shadows for an eternity. There was a lot of secrecy. I was surprised by his patience. And touched by it.”
  3. He may not have followed the conventional fashion school route, but his talent was honed at a number of major brands. “I promised myself: Before your 18th birthday you’re going to be at Jean Paul Gaultier. And it worked. I was hired,” Ghesquière has said. Following his time at Gaultier, he worked freelance at Balenciaga, among others. He began working for the fashion house at 22 and by the age of 25, he was named creative director.
  4. When Ghesquière showed his Spring 2012 collection for Balenciaga, benches started breaking one after the other. Among those who were left standing, in what was dubbed “Benchgate,” were Kate Lanphear, Eric Wilson, Hamish Bowles, Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Salma Hayek, François-Henri Pinault, Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Huppert.
  5. The designer has a longstanding and very surprising fashion love affair with Kristen Stewart. It started when the actress was 14 and doing a shoot with Bruce Weber for Interview magazine. “I met Nicolas Ghesquière. I was blown away—fashion became less superficial in my eyes, though it wasn’t my thing,” she revealed to Marie Claire. “He was a designer I wanted to be around. He was so creative. If I have to walk red carpets, if I have to be in fashion, then I want to be with him.”
  6. The designer has always had hopes of starting a namesake label, but he’s a go big or go home kind of guy. “I would like to do it, but each thing in its time. Today I dedicate myself to Louis Vuitton without forgetting that I have wishes, desires. If it’s to reproduce on a smaller scale what is done on a large scale, honestly, no, it’s not interesting. And that’s not at all the way that I one day envisage launching myself, especially having experienced the biggest existing model,” Ghesquière told WSJ. Magazine.
  7. After leaving Balenciaga, the designer went to Japan for a “spiritual trip.” He shut himself off, unaware of the media frenzy that was going on. When he returned, he described thinking that the reactions to his departure were “quite beautiful.”
  8. It was confirmed by Balenciaga’s lawyer that it was the designer’s comments in an interview with System where among other things Ghesquière revealed that working at Balenciaga became “dehumanizing” that prompted the brand to sue him. According to WWD, Balenciaga wants $9.2 million in damages and “publication of the judgment in a variety of French fashion and business publications.” The lawsuit is being settled out of court.
  9. When discussing his Fall 2007 multicultural-influenced collection for Balenciaga, the designer explained how difficult it is to make ethnic-inspired fashion work. “Some designers, of course, are incredible at it. Azzedine [Alaïa] always did ethnic. Jean Paul Gaultier. But I would say it’s never easy to take it out of its context. You refer to an African queen or a Chinese shape, and it’s not easy for the rest of the people to wear it. There’s not much that is twisted in ethnic-inspired fashion, if I can say that. You know all the raves, the techno parties, which are huge and where the kids all wear khakis and parkas with African things? That’s what I wanted to evoke a little bit. It’s a bit aggressive,” he explained to The New York Times.
  10. When describing his vision for Louis Vuitton, he takes a multidimensional view. “It’s a multiple-profile woman. It’s a woman with a talent for mixing the clothes. There are iconic pieces; there are comfortable, functional pieces, and embellished pieces. And it’s the way you mix it together – a new casualness – that I am interested in.” Are sweatpants in Louis Vuitton’s future?