Nicolas Ghesquière has been confirmed as the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton.
Ghesquière, who turned Balenciaga into the hottest brand in French fashion during his tenure there, succeeds Marc Jacobs, who left last month after 16 years at the brand.
"The Maison Louis Vuitton is thrilled to welcome Nicolas Ghesquière, one of today’s greatest talents," according to a statement by the house. "He will bring a modern creative vision to the House’s women’s collections, building on the values of refinement, savoir faire and extreme quality which are at the heart of the Louis Vuitton Maison since 1854."
"Louis Vuitton has always incarnated for me the symbol of ultimate luxury, innovation and exploration. I am very honored of the mission that I am entrusted with, and proud to join the history of this great Maison. We share common values and a vision. I can’t wait to join the team. Together we will build the future of the brand while preserving its precious heritage," Ghesquière said.
The French-born Ghesquière took the helm at Balenciaga in 1997, when it had little currency except for a perfume license, and his collections there mixed couture tradition with sci-fi futurism and cutting-edge materials, often with nods to fine art. (A pair of boots from one collection was inspired by Rachel Whiteread, and dresses were painted with landscapes to look like Chinese screens.).
In 2001, he launched an "it" bag, the Lariat, with multiple zippers and a stitched handle. He helped expand the brand globally, including opening a store on Melrose Avenue across from the Pacific Design Center. (Ghesquière, 42, left Balenciaga in November 2012 after disagreements with management over the direction of the company.)
Accessories will be an important part of his work at the $10-billion Louis Vuitton brand, the jewel in the crown of the LVMH empire.
But it's more exciting to think about what he will do for the ready-to-wear, now that he has the massive machine of Vuitton behind him.
He certainly has the childlike, pop-culture-obsessed imagination to keep up the tradition of Vuitton's blockbuster fashion-as-theater runway shows. During an interview with him in Los Angeles, I will never forget how excited he was to talk about Disneyland's Space Mountain ride. I will also never forget this quote: "Fashion used to be very subversive. Now it's about brands. ... For me, the craft is really what's making the difference."
It will be interesting to see if he can bring a subversive touch to the big business of Louis Vuitton, and perhaps, usher luxury into a future era while he's at it.
Ghesquière's first collection for Louis Vuitton will debut in March.