Nicolas Ghesquiere may very well be the most sought-after designer in fashion, even if most people cannot pronounce his name. WWD's Bridget Foley sat down with the sprightly designer to discuss his immense respect for Cristobal Balenciaga, how the brand landed an "It" bag and subsequently a blistering accessories business, and his unwillingness to compromise fine design. Ghesquière also chatted about a variety of other topics, including jaunts to the house's archives, the upcoming Balenciaga exhibition in Paris and how celebrities like Nicole Kidman approach the house instead of vice versa.
WWD: Nicolas, I know the theme of the whole summit is change and you want to talk about that. But first of all you want to say a few words about Mr. Balenciaga himself.
Nicolas Ghesquière: What we can say about Cristobal Balenciaga is that he first showed his collection in Paris in 1937 and he was considered right away as a true fashion innovator. He radically changed the fashionable silhouette for women in the mid-20th century. He was praised as a revolutionizing force in fashion. For the next 30 years, he remained the most influential couturier. So it's always interesting to remind people of that and to think of that environment, that time.
Christian Dior once said of Cristobal Balenciaga that he was "the master of us all." Balenciaga decided to close his house in 1968 because he was a couturier and he didn't want to start a ready-to-wear collection. His influence on fashion today is incredible. You can still see his influence on our work. We can also say he left the most interesting heritage and I am very proud to be able to work with that inspiration now.
WWD: This morning Robert Polet [chief executive officer of Gucci Group, which owns Balenciaga] said one of the most important things in reviving a house is making sure the designer is right for the house. What makes you right for the house of Balenciaga?
N.G.: I would say it's timing. First, I have the chance to find Sleeping Beauty. Balenciaga was really Sleeping Beauty. It had disappeared for 30 years. The ready-to-wear was existing but it was not really developed. First is to find the name and to have the opportunity to be hired and to find the team. I found amazing people and we shared the same vision.
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"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)