And Balenciaga's New Artistic Director Is....
As the summer weather began to fade, all the fashion world seemed to talk about was the power vacuum that was happening at Balenciaga. After serving only three years as creative director, streetwear king Alexander Wang had announced he was leaving his post, and the question on everyone’s lips was who would be next to step up to the plate. The answer came this morning, and it’s frankly a surprising one: the new artistic director of the brand is Demna Gvasalia, current director of Vetements.
Gvasalia is very much still an upstart when it comes to running a house with as rich a history as Balenciaga. But even if Gvasalia’s name doesn’t ring any bells, his current label has certainly been making waves of its own. His SS16 collection, which just debuted in Paris, was attended by nearly every major fashion editor and, the prophet of millennial fashion himself, Kanye West.
At this point, some of you may be wondering, what Vetements is. It’s the French word for ‘clothing,’ but don’t be fooled by its simplistic name. It was born last year out of former designers from Maison Margiela, which should be an indication of the special kind of prodigious apparel that Vetements would produce. This season’s collection was a gathering of the mundane—denim, lots of leather, oversized jerseys—which morphed into the extraordinary. Low-hanging sleeves ruled over pristine florals, and thigh-high boots had our eyes turning away from graphic-emblazoned wonder bras underneath dusters.
Suffice to say, they won us over. But what does this mean for Balenciaga? Or for the fashion world at large? Though Wang has built himself a streetwear empire this past decade, his attention to detail at the Paris-based, Spanish house got lost in translation. Balenciaga has officially signed on to get even edgier, continuing their practice of hiring an unexpected, young, buzzed-about designer.
This has hints of the beginning of a new trend of malleability in fashion’s artistic directors. The days where a single designer like Nicolas Ghesquière, who could rule a house for over a decade, could very well give way to a baseball team style trade-off, continually reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Regardless, Balenciaga has a lot to prove next season, but Gvasalia has shown himself a worthy man to go the distance.
Designer portrait courtesy of Balenciaga