Nicolas Ghesquière, Balenciaga and a few notes on menswear.

March 5, 2015
Another day, another dramatic upheaval at a Parisian fashion house. Since news of Nicolas Ghesquière‘s impending departure from the house of Balenciaga broke earlier today, I’ve mostly been wondering why hysterical fashion types lament a designer’s mere career-change as if it were a tragic death.

Aside from that, I’ve been trawling through the GQ archive of Balenciaga show reports, familiarising myself with the lesser known of the two branches helmed by Ghesquière at Balenciaga – his truly unique menswear. 

^ Spring Summer 2007; suiting and collegiate styles dominate

Singular, incomparable, individual since its inception in 2004, Ghesquière’s clothing for men was at times genius in its ahead-of-the-curve daring, and at times not only questionably styled, but entirely questionable; obviously relegated to the back-seat behind its older, attention-grabbing sister, the Balenciaga menswear line under Ghesquière is a curious mix of spot-on – and way-off – the mark. 
I’ll happily ‘fess up that I’ve never had the privilege of attending a Balenciaga men’s show, nor have I any reference points to base this post on bar these images from a scattered selection of seasons. Still, in turning an objective eye towards Ghesquière’s contribution to menswear, the boons and blunders are pretty plain to see. Juxtapositions of skinny and slouchy silhouettes that were a little too jarring, token splashes of colour lazily injected into a Spring Summer collection seemingly just for the sake of it, an oftentimes underwhelming impact in comparison to its womenswear counterpart.
Here, though, I’ve rounded up a selection which, for me, neatly summarises those triumphs the designer’s tenure at Balenciaga deserves to be remembered for – from the preppy, nattily tailored beginnings to the Futuristic minimalism of the more recent offerings.

^ Autumn Winter 2007; military influences and a slightly more experimental bent emerge

^ Spring Summer 2008; short-shorts make an appearance several seasons before their being adopted widely ca. SS12; minimalist interpretations of sportswear enter the mix

^ Spring Summer 2011; the Futuristic vision now synonymous with Ghesquière’s reign at Balenciaga is fully visible

^ Autumn Winter 2011; Parisian chic reminiscent of contemporaries Lucas Ossendrijver at Lanvin and Kris Van Assche

^ Spring Summer 2012; a knock-out collection of sharp cuts and geometric colour-blocking

^ Autumn Winter 2012; continuing on in the previous season’s vein, Ghesquière’s adds another string to his bow

^ Spring Summer 2013; explorations in cyber aesthetics give way to a more subdued, naturalistic minimalism

It saddens me a little to think that Ghesquière departs just as the house’s men’s divison has begun to cohere, excite and vie for a long-awaited place amongst the menswear greats. That said, I’m sure there’s plenty more where that came from,

Can we all now get a grip, reign it in, recognise nobody’s died, salute Ghesquière for Balenciaga and wish him well in his future endeavours?

Read more about the parting of Ghesqière and Balenciaga here

Images from GQ, Style and New York Magazine

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