Tag: cristobal balenciaga

THE REINVENTION OF BALENCIAGA

balenciaga

it’s interesting to look at the ways in which brands are redefined & mass marketed in today’s global industry of fashion- balenciaga being one of the hottest on the block. though this rise in temperature is nothing new for the french based, spanish heritage label, the american whose been cast in the role of game changer at the house definitely has our attention. fashion school drop out, alexander wang is the new installment at balenciaga and is beginning to show through the labels design direction and now through advertising. anyone who knows about re-branding or re-invention knows it’s not an overnight process. wang’s understanding of street style & the merging of high style have proven to be a successful level of execution that is completely necessary in today’s fashion market. as a designer, you wear many hats- and we’re not talking millinery. you have to be a public figure, a celebrity, an artist, a business man and a public speaker among many other smaller or sub-roles within larger roles, im sure. headed toward the lane of today’s design superstars, like marc jacobs or karl lagerfeld; wang understands the importance in balance of beauty & business, which makes him a noted, as well as valuable asset.

what’s even more alluring in the discussion of balenciaga are the after thoughts of it’s own page turning history. an abrupt ending of one chapter & a jaw-dropping entry into the next had us all wondering what went wrong. the awe inspiring star power & design innovation that balenciaga became through the creative vision of nicholas ghesquière was nothing short of fashion genius. since that abrupt ending, and wang’s installment, ghesquière has opened up about his departure. exposing creative frustrations & lack of business know-how at the label. all this and one has to wonder- how can creativity prevail? most certainly, the house of balenciaga was thrust into modernity, shit- the house was thrust into the future and ultimately resulted in other houses following suit. there once was a tumblr account, which conveniently vanished from cyberspace, but was hailed by fashion kids & interestingly appeared before the announced departure of ghesquière; it reminded us of how thoroughly the house and ghesquière really have set the trends, and how other fashion houses followed suit- even years after balenciaga put them on their runway.

the history of balenciaga as a house, as well as it’s founding father, cristobal balenciaga are very interesting to compare and contrast. cristobal himself shyed away from the spotlight, he had no interest in popularized aesthetics. in fact, he was the opposite of christian dior. dior’s new look was rivaled with balenciaga’s fluid lines- streamlined and linear are how his work has often been described. cristobal murdered the fashion scene, debuting new silhouettes that redefined the ways that women could dress up to feel beautiful. these days, fashion has become too political. i’ll use the example of american vogue- you understand that only key players will land the cover & through negotiation or business strategy. that’s what fashion is today, the creative component is looked at secondary. the business angle is what allows or distracts from how far a label will go. balenciaga, in my mind, didn’t seem to have this problem. an unmistakably powerful combination, ghesquière for balenciaga ushered in a new era where it became about the clothes again. much to our dismay, this happened despite ghesquière’s own unhappiness there. imagine, if his legacy can be birthed even through frustration, what would happen should he be in a space of calm? in an environment where he was free to create, without restraint. inarguable is the legacy of balenciaga and now is an interesting point of re-invention.

following wang’s somewhat demur, or thoughtfully controlled debut during the FW13/14 show season, we now get our first look at the label’s latest advertising campaign, wang’s first at balenciaga. i loved the collections darkness & appreciated the use of texture. the cracked leather, the simulation of woodgrain- it was all very chic, but very wang. i struggled with the idea that balenciaga would remain as innovative as it had been while under the guidance of ghesquière, but then again- would it be a new era if we were to stay in that lane? would these collections by wang hinge too closely the aesthetics of his own namesake new york collections? how well will both differ? as a fashion school drop out, could wang pull it off with technical knowledge and understanding of silhouette? does he understand the format thoroughly enough to break it? now looking at the campaign, it seems as though he’s moving into the right direction, but even through the lens of steven klein and the anonymous backshot of kristen mcmenamy- you’re still left wondering. it’s the kind of marketing mentality that indeed keeps us wondering.

it’s pulling us in, whether we like it or not because we want to find out what will happen next. comparable to chanel, since  karl lagerfeld loves a good greyscaled image set, some might find the comparison too dull. for a name like wang or a name like balenciaga. wang’s 35 piece collection appeared a much more private mannered runway presentation. you felt the sense of change as you now sense in this campaign, yet you’re left longing for more. the hint of fluidity in silhouette makes me want to see more of the campaign; the palette for the collection was rather controlled as well- it leads me to believe that this elements are thought of. it’s all under control. the level of publicity given, the level of access given, the level of visibility seen from the clothes to the model. it’s all carefully under wraps. but will this prove to be a winning combination? how is the heritage and future both simultaneously being represented? no doubt, the ending of balenciaga is nowhere near- but now is where wang has to make it count. it seems as though he’s sticking to what he knows. black & white, it’s faultless. he’s played with texture heavily, but none of that is evident in the campaign, as yet. the referencing of the archives is present in the collection, but again, not in the campaign. how does this image represent that re-invention, that sense of ‘this is balenciaga’; more importantly, how does this create greater self distinction between balenciaga, a leader in innovation, and it’s other competitive counterparts? we’re watching and waiting, something tells me that something awaits behind that door.

GHESQUIÈRE FOR BALENCIAGA: 1997-2012

effective today, nicholas ghesquiere at the house of balenciaga will be no more. after 15 years of highly influential work at one of fashion’s most acclaimed labels, it was a complete shot to read that nicholas ghesquiere would part ways with french fashion house, which he brought to the forefront of innovation & glamour futurism for the last decade, plus. untouchable through the 2000’s, balenciaga has become a name so synonymous with innovation & unparalleled imagination that it seemed to surpass the boundary of our present day & times. this direction that has become so closely associated with the house of balenciaga in today’s industry is all thanks to the work of ghesquiere. as a fashion house, cristobal balenciaga showed his first collection in 1937. the influence of balenciaga, the man, is still seen in many of fashion’s most creative entities, most noteably the house of givenchy. a rarity of a fashion persona, balenciaga resisted many forms of major media & had become underrated for the work he had influenced into the mainstream, with competitor christian dior. while the house had gone dormant from 1968-1986, the resurgence of the houses fashion heritage thrived & was resurrected throughout the 80’s and 90’s, leading to ghesquiere’s creative role in 1997.

just a week before the new of ghesquiere’s departure his the internet and our jaws hit the floor, i had been made aware of a blog that went to identify the true & present influence of balenciaga. titled, balenciagadiditfirst, that tumblr space is now closed. though unable to be viewed at this time, the space really clarified the level of creativity in which the house of balenciaga has lead the way with for longer than a decade. from groundbreaking campaigns, to insanely beautiful footwear- balenciaga as a house is untouchable. but in the last season or two, many had made comments about lackluster concepts, the feeling of departure felt in design & how much longer ghesquiere would be in place. initially, when he was brought in to lead the label, ghesquiere was hailed for his apprenticed work with jean paul-gaultier & also boasts the skill of being self taught- a rare quality that isn’t often able to draw such credibility as he ghesquiere has now proven & defined through the years. the pairing of ghesquiere with the house of balenciaga was and will remain a true revolution in the world of design. never had a house seen such poignant revitalization that both honored & upgraded a label’s heritage as it had under the guidance of ghesquiere, who has proven himself to be a true gem of a visionary.

i sit, thinking of where fashion is headed- what will be left of the vision and imaginative re-workings of years past through these great designers who have been carefully selected as creative directors. these individuals have greater power than we realize or acknowledge in the present day. if you even look at the archived campaigns of the house of balenciaga; the evolution of design & the tested boundary of what could and would be is something of a fantasy. you can review such an archive on the official balenciaga website, which fundamentally outlines the level of growth ghesquiere had as an artist working with the house. to think that clothes like these are now in closets, walked runways & were photographed for glossy magazines around the globe is that of true artistic execution. this fulfilled potential, i feel, that ghesquiere was able to produce during his tenure at balenciaga is nowhere nearly as valuable now, as it will be in the future. what we have witnessed through his work at balenciaga will live forever, with no expiration or proper replacement.

in speaking of replacements, onward motion of artists & where certain paths lead- there has been speculation that ghesquiere will head of the planned resurrection of schiaparelli, which has lay dormant since 1954. historically, schiaparelli is widely regarded as the most prominent fashion figure between the two world wars. she was a rival of coco chanel. this alone lays such an interesting groundwork for a label to reemerge & with balenciaga’s ownership coming by way of the house of gucci, under PPR- it’s very possible that ghesquiere’s evolution is just scratching the surface. as the internet becomes abuzz with news of american deisgner alexander wang taking the helm at balenciaga, we await an official announcement from the house of balenciaga, while my heart weighs heavily with doubt of whether wang can deliver & execute on the level ghesquiere has. the context of great design as it relates to america, in comparison to paris- forget it. there is no competition. as an american, while i recognize the creative potential of my country; im also a realist & recognize that fashion lives & dies in paris, france. this is fact, not an opinion. while i have observed alexander wang’s own collections, both the alexander wang mainline & his T collections- i don’t feel that he is equipped to take on the immense value of a fashion house that holds as much weight as balenciaga. his knack for turning ugly into beautiful or awkward into interesting is, yes, a skill- but how will this coincide with the work & heritage of balenciaga. a failure in this regard could alter fashion & wang’s own career forever. this is dangerous territory & not at all considered a game.

while time, and the planned announcement, will tell whether or not this is a fitting match; my doubts become stacked. i absolutely doubt wang’s ability to go from american fashion house in new york, to the big leagues of paris with a house that had been founded in 1914. while cristobal balenciaga had showed his first collection in 1973- the house & his boutique was first opened in 1918. wang’s reference of grunge compared to ghesquiere’s reinterpretation of the spanish renaissance- are you kidding? how can this even be considered in the same league? the archives of balenciaga, considering only the work of ghesquiere in the last five years, compared to wang’s entire career; wang is devoured. there is not competition. this is like dinosaurs battling new born babies. my doubts are heavy, i have no hesitation in admitting or articulating this as so. when they spoke of the mayan calendar ending in 2012; this could very well be the change that has been foretold. a new era has begun and there’s not telling where any of this will end up. [source]

a look back at some of my favorite baleciaga campaigns through the years

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visit balenciaga for an extended retrospective look at campaigns
during nicholas ghesquiere’s tenure from 1998-2012

fall prêt-à-porter, paris: rick owens

rick owens presents a noticeably more fitted collection this season at paris fashion week. creating a set of looks with fitted hoods, sharp tailoring & dangerously chic silhouettes. owens has described this collection as a modern day take on what cristobal balenciaga would be designing, if he was still designing today- this & still, owens does not ditch his own signature aesthetic. with expected use of sleek leather & beautiful incorporations of capes in neutral & grey were seen. rick is one designer i greatly admire- he knows what works & gives his clientele what they want. though progressive, his concepts are no less thoughtful & are often time inspired by tremendously artistic elements. here, i feel, owens has really struck a cord in design- a fusion of his hard edged style is seen added to greater concepts of classic style & defined sophistication. a really stunning set of design & great follow-up from last season’s relaxed designs. i love the volume & exaggeration seen thoughout the collection; i was very inspired by this fresh direction that was presented. i applaud the design & direction taken.  

imagesource | vogue.fr