SEVEN WONDERS: Nicolas Ghesquière’s greatest Balenciaga hits

November 6th, 2012

Nicolas Ghesquière sent shockwaves through the industry yesterday when he abruptly announced his resignation from Balenciaga. Over his 15-year tenure, the French designer has been hailed as a modernizing force for the iconic house, reinterpreting its classic designs for a new generation and even introducing Kristen Stewart to the mix. So it’s with a heavy heart that Wonderland count down some of our favourite Ghesquière collections and wave farewell to the beloved designer…

1. Autumn/Winter 2008

Here, Ghesquière demonstrates his signature motifs to great effect: sharp lines, geometric shapes and ultra-structured silhouettes – but combined with the Spanish flair of a particularly dramatic widow breaking up her mourning attire with tan heels and bold jewellery. Particularly ironic, given that Ghesquière initially started out in Balenciaga designing suits and funeral wear for a Japanese audience.

2. Pre-Fall/Winter 2012

Any collection that marries teddy boy jackets, mini dresses, tailoring and splashes of colour is a collection to remember. Ghesquière brought the late 70s and the early 80s back with the use of high-tech fabrics and bright colours that held your attention and literally brought us back to the future.

3. Spring/Summer 2011

What makes this collection so remarkable is that Ghesquière opens his show with a trio of spiky-haired street-cast girls, then ended the show with Gisele Bundchen standing between Amber Valetta, Carolyn Murphy and Stella Tennant. Borrowing from punks, goths and rockabillies, Ghesquière showed off an insouciant rock ‘n’ roll edge – the kind of sullen glamour that later on made Kristen Stewart and Balenciaga a perfect match.

4. Spring/Summer 2009

It’s no wonder Nicolas Ghesquière was selected to shake things up at Balenciaga, one of fashion’s most revered houses. This collection shows that he was one to shy away from experimentation, and it pays off masterfully here, with complex and futuristic pieces that nod towards Balenciaga’s past while keeping its eye firmly on the future.

5. Spring/Summer 2010

Ghesquière has always been one to switch between extremes – hard androgyny one season and feminine softness the next – but he does so with such a clarity of vision that you could never accuse him of flip-flopping. Here, he went for a full-on urban look, playing with denim, recycled fabrics and leather, creating a diverse and athletic day-and-night style.

6. Autumn/Winter 2010

From a sci-fi galaxy to a prettily pink wonderland, Ghesquière went all soft and feminine with this collection, far removed from his previous S/S 2009 show. With its soft midnight blues and sweet baby pinks, he showed that he could exert a light, graceful touch with fabric.

7. Spring/Summer 2013

The designer didn’t hold anything back for what we now know as his final show for Balenciaga. Ghesquière created an effortlessly covetable collection that involved a lot of skin and exuded sexiness: the bustiers were super-sculpted, the crop tops ultra-cropped, the peplum ruffles dancing up and around the skirt silhouette. Beautiful, sleek and completely Balenciaga – farewell, Nicolas; goodbye and good luck.

Words: Tracy Kiryago