As you've no doubt heard by now (maybe you didn't even realize it was news thanks to the number of unconfirmed reports that preceded yesterday's official announcement), Nicolas Ghesquiere has taken the reins at Louis Vuitton -- his first collection for the French Fashion House will bow in March.
The response to this news has been generally positive -- perhaps uncharacteristically so, for the fashion crowd. Typically, at least of late, new designer hires at major fashion houses have been controversial at best. And yet everyone, from Twitterers to critics, seem excited and ready to see what Ghesquiere brings to Louis Vuitton's monogrammed table.
One reason for this calm acceptance could be the fact that the news had already been circulating for months, giving everyone time to digest it. Also, people generally liked (if not loved/died for) what Ghesquiere did at Balenciaga -- his departure from the house one year ago disappointed many -- and he's generally seen as one of the most influential and talented designers working. His collections for Balenciaga never failed to be memorable and were always among the most shot in magazines, and frequently worn by celebrities and street style stars.
If things go well, he could bring that same excitement to Vuitton.
Beyond what Ghesquiere may achieve at Louis Vuitton, the designer may be on track to get his own (potentially LVMH-backed) line, in addition to the Vuitton gig, as Jacobs did. When Ghesquiere left Balenciaga, there were rumors that he was in talks with LVMH to do something. “This is something I always think about, since I started,” he told the New York Times' Suzy Menkes Tuesday, “that one day maybe I will do my own name. But not now when I was asked to do something so fantastic." But, he added: "I am not saying ‘no.’"
What will Ghesquiere's March debut bring? Since Ghesquiere isn't giving any more interviews until his March debut, we can only speculate, but looking to his past designs for Balenciaga may give us some clues.
Interesting Sex Appeal
Ghesquiere has never been afraid to show some leg or put in a suggestive cut-out, though even his sexiest looks have always been tasteful and interesting.
While we had nothing against Marc Jacobs' lingerie-inflected Fall 2013 collection for Vuitton, Ghesquiere would have likely done something a little less literal. "Nicolas' is a slightly quieter brand of understated luxury," Editorialist co-founder Kate Davidson Hudson tells us.
Appealing New Ideas
What Ghesquiere brought to Balenciaga was something only a few designers bring to the table these days -- styles we've never seen before.
Though he usually paid homage to Balenciaga's namesake, he did so while presenting his own surprising ideas -- and it pretty much always worked. "In that spirit of true originality, while always taking cues from the heritage of the House, his knack for tapping into the pulse of exactly what every fashion-savvy woman wanted was unparalleled," Davidson Hudson says.
Must-Have Statement Accessories
You can't think of Nicolas Ghesquiere -- or even Balenciaga -- without thinking about the once-ubiquitous Lariat bag, once seen on the arm of about every Hollywood It Girl in existence. "He knows the value of creating that 'It' piece as he did with the Balenciaga 'Lariat' moto bag that was carried by every celebrity from Kate Moss to Sienna Miller, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Katie Holmes and Diane Kruger," says Jaime Cohn-Barr, accessories editor at WGSN. "That bag is now considered to be 'iconic,' which is something he learned the importance of while at Balenciaga."
It sounds like Ghesquiere's talent in this arena is just what Louis Vuitton is banking on. However, much of the Lariat's appeal was its lack of a logo. "Ghesquiere will have to figure out a way to marry the branded approach with the must-have styling, something he undoubtedly will do successfully with his keen eye for detail, styling and materials," says Cohn-Bar. This sentiment was echoed by Davidson Hudson: "For a house like Vuitton, who has built such a huge business on the power of a monogram and a logo, I think Nicolas will bring a welcome and hugely refreshing perspective to Louis Vuitton," she enthuses. "And, from the accessories-front, quickly give us a new 'It' bag [or two] to lust after."
Ghesquiere will also have some help. Vuitton recently hired a new accessories designer -- Darren Spaziani, a former colleague of Ghesquiere's at Balenciaga -- to help execute its new hyper-luxury vision for handbags. Spaziani also helped conceive the Proenza Schouler PS1, so everyone expects at least a few "It" bags out of their partnership.
Like many designers, including Marc Jacobs before him, Ghesquiere has his girls. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a photo of him without some celebrity or style icon on his arm. The roster includes Kristen Stewart, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jennifer Connelly and Chloé Sevigny.