Old news: he left Balenciaga and got sued for spoke out to magazine.

BoF Exclusive | Nicolas Ghesquière Finally Speaks On Why He Left Balenciaga

After months of silence, Nicolas Ghesquiere has finally spoken out. Today, BoF brings you the global exclusive excerpt of his interview with System magazine where he reveals the circumstances surrounding his abrupt departure from Balenciaga.

PARIS, France — After months of silence, Nicolas Ghesquière has finally spoken out.

System magazine's Jonathan Wingfield interviewed Nicolas Ghesquière several times between early December 2012 and late March 2013. This was the first time Ghesquière had chosen to speak publicly about his shock departure after 15 years at Balenciaga.

Ghesquière opens up about why he left Balenciaga, his thoughts and impressions about the current state of the fashion industry and what the future has in store. As he mentions at one point in this defining conversation, “The best way to move forward is to go back to work.”

What follows is a global exclusive excerpt from the interview.

At what point into the job at Balenciaga did you realise you needed to wise up to the business side of the brand?

NG: Straight away. It’s part of being a creative because the vision you have ends up in the stores. It actually makes me smile today when I think about it because it was me who had to invent the concept of being commercial at Balenciaga. Right from the start I wanted it to be commercial, but the first group who owned the house didn’t have the first notion of commerce; there was no production team. There was nothing.

What was your vision for the brand?

NG: For me, Balenciaga has a history that is just as important as that of Chanel, even if it’s a lesser-known name. It had the modernity, it was contemporary, and I’ve always positioned it as a little Chanel or Prada.

But what makes Chanel and Prada bigger structures?

NG: The people that surround the designers. Miuccia Prada has an extraordinary partner, whereas I was doing everything by myself.

So without the right people, building something as big as a Chanel or Prada is unimaginable?

NG: I don’t know if it’s impossible, maybe the system will change, but what’s clear is that those brands have family and partners surrounding them, and they have creative carte blanche. Prada, for example, has made this model where you can be a business and an opinion leader at the same time, which is totally admirable. It’s the same thing at Chanel. Sadly, I never had that. I never had a partner, and I ended up feeling too alone. I had a marvellous studio and design team who were close to me, but it started becoming a bureaucracy and gradually became more corporate, until it was no longer even linked to fashion. In the end, it felt as though they just wanted to be like any other house.

You’re saying this spanned from a lack of dialogue?

NG: From the fact that there was no one helping me on the business side, for example.

Can you be more specific?

NG: They wanted to open up a load of stores but in really mediocre spaces, where people weren’t aware of the brand. It was a strategy that I just couldn’t relate to. I found this garage space on Faubourg-Saint-Honoré; I got in contact with the real estate guy who’s a friend of a friend, and we started talking… And when I went back to Balenciaga, the reaction was, ‘Oh no, no, no, not Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, you can’t be serious?’ And I said yes really, the architecture is amazing, it’s not a classic shop. Oh really, really… then six months went by, six long months of negotiations… it was just so frustrating. Everything was like that.

And the conversations, like that one about the store, who would you have them with?

NG: I’d rather not say. There wasn’t really any direction. I think with Karl and Miuccia, you can feel that it’s the creative people who have the power. It was around that time that I heard people saying, ‘Your style is so Balenciaga now, it’s no longer Nicolas Ghesquière, it’s Balenciaga’s style.’ It all became so dehumanised. Everything became an asset for the brand, trying to make it ever more corporate – it was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that Balenciaga has become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore.

When was the first time you felt your ambitions for the house were no longer compatible with Balenciaga’s management?

NG: It was all the time, but especially over the last two or three years it became one frustration after another. It was really that lack of culture which bothered me in the end. The strongest pieces that we made for the catwalk got ignored by the business people. They forgot that in order to get to that easily sellable biker jacket, it had to go via a technically mastered piece that had been shown on the catwalk. I started to become unhappy when I realised that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I’d done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like. This accelerated desire meant they ignored the fact that all the pieces that remain the most popular today are from collections we made ten years ago. They have become classics and will carry on being so. Although the catwalk was extremely rich in ideas and products, there was no follow-up merchandising. With just one jacket we could have triggered whole commercial strategies. It’s what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t do everything. I was switching between the designs for the catwalk and the merchandisable pieces – I became Mr Merchandiser. There was never a merchandiser at Balenciaga, which I regret terribly.

Did you never go to the top of the group and ask for the support you needed?

NG: Yes, endlessly! But they didn’t understand. More than anything else, you need people who understand fashion. There are people I’ve worked with who have never understood how fashion works. They keep saying they love fashion, yet they’ve never actually grasped that this isn’t yoghurt or a piece of furniture - products in the purest sense of the term. They just don’t understand the process at all, and so now they’re transforming it into something much more reproducible and flat.

What’s the alternative to this?

NG: You need to have the right people around you: people who adore the luxury domain. There has to be a vision, but there also has to be a partner, a duo, someone to help you carry it. I haven’t lost hope!

At the time when you were starting to feel that frustration, did you talk to any other designers who were in the same situation?

NG: Yes. What’s interesting is how my split from Balenciaga has encouraged people to get in touch with me, and they’ve said, ‘Me too, I’m in the same situation. I want to leave too.’ There are others, but my situation at Balenciaga was very particular.

In spite of the increasingly stifling conditions you felt you were operating in, were you nonetheless scared by the prospect of leaving Balenciaga?

NG: I just said to myself, ‘Okay, well you have to leave, you have to cut the cord.’ But I didn’t say anything to anyone, apart from to a few very close people, because, you know, I’ve become pretty good at standing on my own two feet.

Once you’d decided enough was enough and you made your intentions clear, was management surprised that you wanted to leave?

NG: Yes. I think so, because I’d shown my ambitions for the house. There’d been lots of discussions, of course, and there were clearly some differences, but that sort of decision doesn’t just come out of nowhere. I’d been thinking a lot too. I was having trouble sleeping at one point. [Laughs] But there’s usually something keeping me awake.

After the announcement, did lots of people in the fashion world contact you?

NG: I didn’t actually see all the reactions straight away because I was in Japan at the time; one of my best friends had taken me on something of a spiritual trip to observe people who make traditional lacquer and obi belts; it was such a privileged environment with tea ceremonies. On the other side of the world, there was this violent announcement being made. When I got back to Paris I saw the press, and with all the commentary going on I actually learnt things about myself; it was quite beautiful in fact. Generally the reaction had been very positive, even on Twitter there were some very satisfactory things being written. Ultimately, I felt okay in the end because it seemed very dignified. I haven’t expressed myself up until now, but I would like to say thank you to everyone, I really am very grateful.

Did you ever think about making a personal announcement?

NG: No, I never wanted to express myself like that. I don’t know how to do that.

What’s the most exciting thing about this period of time for you?

NG: Preparing for the next chapter and having the time to observe what’s going on in the industry. People could have forever associated me with Balenciaga. We saw clearly when the split took place that there was a desire for my name, so I disassociated myself naturally from the house. That could have been a risk. It would have been different if Balenciaga had disassociated itself from me, but people had seen me develop my signature and knew that it might happen. That’s exciting because whatever choice I make, the possibilities are open, and that was confirmed with the freeing of my name from Balenciaga. I’d made so much effort and been such a good obedient kid in associating myself… Now I can imagine a whole new vocabulary. I’m regenerating again, and that’s very exciting because it’s a feeling I haven’t had since I was in my twenties.

Guest-edited by Marie-Amélie Sauvé, the debut issue of System magazine hits newsstands this week. In addition to the full interview with Nicolas Ghesquière, it includes interviews with designers Azzedine Alaïa and Valentino, art director Marc Ascoli, and former Louis Vuitton chief executive Yves Carcelle.




Balenciaga Spring 2012 + Marty McFly from Back to the Future = FLAWLESS! 



Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York.

Yeezy, SS16, New York.

While looking at the Yeezy collection for Spring-Summer 2016 with puckered seams and wavy zippers, a question began to form about how to evaluate the construction techniques of a collection. Can it ever support a designer’s concept to have construction details that are technically wrong?

Interviews surrounding the collection suggest that the colour palette was a reflection on the variety of human skin tones, played out through the soft muted tones of the colour palette. The silhouettes and details also have military undertones with camouflage colours and utilitarian pockets. But there is also that misfit quality about the clothes, maybe less like a well-funded army and more like kids creating oversized outfits from army surplus.

In this collection, it seems like the clothes were made first and then dyed afterwards, or at least were garment washed after construction to affect and distress the fabrics. It is this process which either intentionally, or unintentionally, has caused the technical problems with the details in the collection. The puckered seams and wavy zipper tapes seem to be the result of putting the garments through wash cycles and treatments, potentially at high temperatures, where all of the components have shrunk at different rates. The thread on the seams reacts differently to the surrounding fabric, and the zipper tapes buckle against the edges of garments.

But the question is, when do we applaud these details for being cleverly engineered methods for creating the mood of the collection and when do we draw the line and just call them construction issues?

This is not at all intended to be a collection review based on whether or not people should like the collection - this is about analysing how we value clothing and how we use construction details as a signal of what we think clothing is worth. And maybe about whether we can still call a piece “luxury” or “elevated” if the construction details may be mistakes.

Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 1. Velcro looks worn, rib looks like it has lost elasticity.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 2. Fading on seams suggests garment was washed after construction.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 3. Gathering and possibly darts used to increase crumpled look of trousers.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 4. Overstretched neckline.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 5. When distorted, zipper tape creates a wavy edge.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 6. Fabric and thread shrink at different rates causing puckering.

If we decide that the collection is a play on proportion and colour as worn by a cast of ragtag misfits, then you could argue that the details support the collection. These are street style clothes designed to be lived in, worn, stuffed in a bag and then shaken out to be worn again. In a way, they already have the physical qualities of garments that have been through the washing machine too many times. It’s honest to make them have the look of the old favourites that hang around in our wardrobes far longer than they should; t-shirts with overstretched necklines and comfy sweatshirts that have worn too thin.

There’s even precedent for it. Not just at a high-end conceptual fashion level but in streetwear, after all there’s an art to making distressed jeans that look authentic, and people will pay good money for the time and effort required to create the look of a garment that somebody else would throw in the bin. That’s fashion after all, to be able to pick and choose how you piece together an aesthetic and pay for the worn in look if you want it.

Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 7. Rib section cut from thin fabric encourages waviness.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 8. Lots of utilitarian pocket details.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 9. Fabric and thread appear to react to garment washing and become puckered.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 10. Crepey textured fabric.

The next question is, is the fact that the details support the concept of the collection enough? Does part of how we value aesthetic come down to the designer’s control? Is a technique only valid if it was intended, but if it was an accidental consequence of dyeing the garments then does it just become unfortunate? Maybe it shows mastery of materials to choose to mismatch the thread to the fabric or screw up the tension, with the intention of creating puckered seams. Or maybe it happened by accident, and when the samples came back to the studio post-dye everyone went “oops”? Do we value one over the other? Should it even matter?

Maybe it’s actually just that these details stand out when they are not bad enough. Maybe the problems need to be worse, and become something new, to be considered artistic. Think Hussein Chalayan encouraging rust to form on the garments on his graduate collection in 1993. Or Margiela leather goods covered in cracking paint. Or more recently, Faustine Steinmetz’s shredded denim.

The thing is that even on a Comme des Garçons garment where almost no edge of the fabric is finished, overlocking is on the outside, the fabric is fraying like nothing else and the silhouette looks like a bunch of knotted rags, there’ll still sometimes be a hint of control. Something tiny, like a perfectly formed hand sewn thread loop on a hook and loop closure. Even if you choose to embrace accidents and curate destruction, maybe there’s something to be said for offsetting it with a silent nod and a wink, a tiny hint of pure, controlled technique.

Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 11. Wavy zipper tape.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 12. Binding appears to sit too tight along edges.
Is it ever ok to have bad finishes? The Cutting Class. Yeezy, SS16, New York, Image 13. Patterns cut with oversized silhouettes and dropped crotch details.




Bridget Foley’s Diary: Fashion’s Existential Crisis 

Tom Ford’s spring '16 video makes for fun, feisty screen viewing.

There’s a great deal of conversation this week in Paris, and it’s not about the clothes.

It feels as if fashion is on one giant collision course with itself and everyone’s talking about it, designers included. While no one wants to turn back the clock (not possible, and reactionary doesn’t fly in fashion), many wonder — out loud — how to evolve (or perhaps revolutionize) the system in a way that makes sense

In the days leading up to his Lanvin collection, Alber Elbaz mulled fashion’s muddled show system. “The more I talk with people, I see everybody looking for a change, everybody,” he said. “It’s almost like a confusion, about what we are, and who we are in fashion.”

He’s not alone. After a decade-plus of schedule-packing and the frenetic quest to capitalize on the ever-burgeoning fascination the public has with fashion — a global public now accessible in real-time via new technologies — many in the industry, at least those who come from the traditional-show perspective, wonder whether there’s a viable alternative to the current madness. The fashion-show train is overheated so intensely, it feels ready to explode.

“I’m questioning a lot,” Raf Simons said just before his Dior show. “I feel a lot of people are questioning. We have a lot of conversation about it: Where is it going? It’s not only the clothes. It’s the clothes, it’s everything, the Internet.”

Fashion requires nothing of its denizens so much as steadfast adherence to currency, and both designers stressed that they don’t fancy the impossible, squeezing the proverbial fashion toothpaste back into the tube. “I’m questioning. I’m not criticizing, I’m only reflecting,” Elbaz said. And from Simons: “I’m very aware of the world I’m in.”

The show system has changed astronomically over the past several years: more and more shows. Longer and longer days. Celebrities. Live-streams. Instagram. Tweets. Vines. An external show to rival the inside show, with attendees dressing to be photographed, again and again and again. (Yes, cyberspace is infinite; still, where do all those photos go?)

That scene now reeks of self-satire; outside one Spring Studios stop in New York, a photographer asked a pretty girl in a full-skirted white dress to leap and twirl. She did, as if she were in Richard Avedon’s studio in 1978. In front of people, not at all self-conscious. Increasingly, the inside show is conceived and planned for dual reach: to hold the interest of the small in-person audience, but also to resonate powerfully with the vast, opinionated, clothes-buying (at least in part), device-wielding audience around the world.

But just as the shows have changed, in a way, they’ve stayed the same: a pack of working people in fashion-related jobs (new-media types included) still spend a full month on a three- or four-city caravan of going to shows and, in between, doing whatever the related tasks of one’s particular job might be — retailer, traditional press, blogger, street-style star, other influencer. The show behemoth started on its wanton path to mayhem as the ranks of designers presenting became too great to fit reasonably within the days allotted. In a given hour on many of New York’s 13-hour days (that’s 13 hours of actual show time; there’s work being done before and after), three or four shows might run concurrently. The situation grew ever crazier as technology exploded, and the vast global show audience muscled in. This explosion has happened over time. Yet for years, conversation about what might be done to better the system was often brief, halted by variations of that most defeatist (and irritating) of lines: “It is what it is.” Had Helmut Lang been so inert, New Yorkers would still be showing on Halloween.

Finally, today, many in the industry are acknowledging what the current system isn’t: one that makes sense and functions at anything resembling maximum efficiency and impact. Not that efficiency has ever been a primary goal. But the inefficiency of yore was one of intimacy that functioned for the relatively small group of people involved. We went, we waited, we whined, but when John Galliano or Marc Jacobs rocked our cloistered little insider-only world after an interminable delay, we went away transfixed.

Today, live-streaming allows for no such indulgence. Nor does the calendar. Now, it’s considered an affront — and justly so — when one designer cuts too severely into another’s time slot; given the intensity of the schedules, there’s no way to make up the time. Such courtesies aside, the show system tries to serve two constituencies (at least), and they’re both not best approached in the same way. This season has seen experimentation from Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and the Rag & Bone guys, whose shows had a consumer-audience element. Certainly, the moment seems right to broaden the discussion of whether the shows should be open more generally to the public. Fashion has become a major source of entertainment, and shows would be incredibly hot tickets. Yet widespread participation would be difficult; Givenchy’s extravaganza wasn’t done on the cheap.

Still, shifting the shows to a consumer live-audience model wouldn’t solve the question of how to address the original trade purpose of fashion shows — including the elephant-in-the-room mat- ter of just how important that purpose remains to the houses staging shows. Do they still find the traditional audience essential, or are they merely being polite? Nor would it address the fact that live entertainment is generally produced very differently than that intended for screen viewing.

Tom Ford perfectly summed up that point in the letter he sent out with his spring video, produced in lieu of a traditional fashion show. “Having a runway show has become so much about the creation of imagery for online and social media and watching a filmed fashion show can be like watching a filmed play (which is never very satisfying),” he wrote. “I wanted to think about how to present a collection in a cinematic way that was designed from its inception to be presented online.”

Ford had another reason to think out of the box; he’s directing his second feature film and had no time for a fashion show. Yet this isn’t the first time he’s channeled his inner Helmut and gone rogue in search of a better way.

In 2010, when social media still felt new and to some degree controllable (we live, we learn), Ford staged an intimate show at which no outside photography was allowed. His 100 or so guests felt pampered and special. Yet when he tried to maintain tight control of all coverage in subsequent seasons, he had his guts ripped out on multiple fronts. But skin doesn’t come any thicker. Ford grew new guts and tried new approaches, first small shows in London; last season, an extravaganza in Los Angeles tied in with Oscar frenzy, and this season, the video. Starring Lady Gaga and a host of models doing something that models on runway duty aren’t supposed to do — have fun — it’s feisty, loaded with personality, and makes for more engaging screen viewing than a traditional parade of poker-faced (pun not intended) girls. Though the numbers aren’t in yet, it will surely rack up infinite views.

Are slick videos the way to go? Maybe, maybe not. Others have tried it, but not on Ford’s scale. He’s got the name, the resources and access to get noticed. And for those who love fashion and have been lucky enough to experience one or more of those rare, magical runway moments that transfix and remain a memory forever, that would be sad.

But we can boo-hoo all we want. Times change and institutions — even those fashion institutions we love most — require the occasional Darwinian overhaul.

At Chanel on Tuesday morning, Alex Gonzalez, creative director of Elle, talked about fashion today. A longtime show veteran, this is his first season of full, monthlong coverage in some time, so he spoke with some perspective, he offered a simple assessment. “It’s starting not to make sense to me,” he said. 

Nobody live in the moment, live for the memories....

Hit too close to home! Nicholas had been on tumblr lately! 

Nobody live in the moment  and just live in the memories.  Notice everybody use their smartphone to snap and film the show. Apparently they forgot about the lookbook they can preview the collection later? I guess I'm old fashioned. Heh! 


Two more weeks until knock out!

Oh my! Two more weeks until I spin out my last juice of creativity....


Today I felt so DaDa in the morning

In the morning class, I was in seminar with classmates. We talked about DADA, the debate, discussion, and conversation leaded me to become DADA. I took a quick nap to abolished myself from DADA. It failed!


The Three

The Three paintings I created by collages.  It happened like few weeks ago when I could not able to focus on my project. So, I decided to play without the rules.  I picked some of favorite pictures and used it as collages. It turned out fun and enjoyed myself to create the new techniques like use tapes and mores.  I loved it!