BALENCIAGA

Nicolas Ghesquière’s Balenciaga woman is about to meet her match. The designer has built a fast-growing business — and editorial buzz — around the French couture brand since arriving more than a decade ago. And now he’s putting his creative muscle behind Balenciaga Man.

While the brand doesn’t have a men’s wear heritage, Ghesquière — known for sculpted silhouettes, futuristic designs and attention to detail for women — has been dabbling in men’s wear since 2004.

“Until a year ago, my approach was to limit myself to a wardrobe of timeless pieces rather than seasonal fashion statements. Now I’m thinking about a Balenciaga man who could be interested in iconic pieces and the brand,” Ghesquière told WWD in the buildup to men’s fashion week in Paris, which kicks off today. “He’s a man who has similar style points of view as the Balenciaga woman.”

Not that his arrival comes as a surprise. In October, Ghesquière sent Nick Cave’s modeling son, Jethro, down his women’s runway in a sleekly modern suit. Also last year, he opened the first men’s-only Balenciaga corner at Hankyu in Osaka, Japan. A men’s fragrance is another possibility, according to the house.

In an exclusive preview, Ghesquière described the direction he’s taking Balenciaga’s men’s business, which balances wearable pieces with architectural shapes — as in the case of a rust-colored felt jacket with industrial zippers worn with slim red cargo pants.

“Men are driven by other references,” Ghesquière said. “It’s all about quality, fabric, cut and elaboration. Construction and volume are key.”

In men’s wear, the designer sees a split between high-concept fashion and classic tailoring. “I do not understand why it should be in these two boxes,” he said. “It’s quite old to think like that. There are other types of men in between, so I try to make clothes for them. It’s all a question of balance.”

Ghesquière, who wears pieces from the collection, said he strives to “echo the freedom in design” generally allowed women’s wear and not to be constrained by his own personal aesthetic.

“He is probably one of the most organic designers,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Barneys New York. “He only designs and produces garments that he believes in.”

Balenciaga men’s-only corners are appearing in select retail stores around the globe. In addition to Hankyu, corners recently have opened at Harvey Nichols and Shibuya Seibu Men, while Printemps department store will unveil a Balenciaga corner in March.

But for Ghesquière, the men’s business is still in its genesis. “We are just at the beginning of the process,” he said.

— Emilie Marsh

 

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