Nicolas Ghesquière

Everything to Know About Cristóbal Balenciaga

Everything to Know About Cristóbal Balenciaga

Cristóbal Balenciaga, the founder of Balenciaga, worked tirelessly at mastering women’s couture and created a blueprint for the fashion designers of today.
Pillow hats, sack dresses and baby-doll dresses are a few of his creations that considerably impacted the fashion world. Balenciaga’s vision and passion for couture still flow through the brand’s veins as their designers uphold the late designer’s push for innovation in fashion. 
Called “Fashion’s Picasso” by British fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, he was one of the most prominent designers of the 1900s, and his artistry has influenced the fashion world for more than 100 years. A couturier from the age of 12, he mastered his talents by creating patterns, shapes, cuts and designs that hadn’t been seen in women’s fashion previously.

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Early Life
Balenciaga was born on Jan. 21, 1895 in Getaria, Spain. He was the youngest of five children to José Balenciaga Basurto, who died when Balenciaga was young, and Martina Eizaguirre Embil, a seamstress who taught sewing classes in her village. After working alongside his mother, he became an apprentice for a tailor in Gipuzkoa, Spain.
As a teenager, Balenciaga worked as a tailor at Les Grands Magasins du Louvre Parisian branch in the women’s clothing department. His early training in sewing set him apart from other courtiers.
In the late 1910s, Balenciaga became an established couturier in luxury commerce. He opened his first fashion house in San Sebastian, Spain, named Eisa (his mother’s shortened name). After becoming a well-known tailor at his first salon, he later opened up fashion houses in Barcelona and Madrid. But due to the Spanish Civil War, he was forced to close his doors and move his talents and stores to Paris. 
Building the Fashion House
Balenciaga opened his couturier on Avenue George V in Paris in 1937. His collections consistently referred to his culture, including Spanish art and styles, catching the eyes of many. 
After World War ll, Balenciaga’s talents were increasingly recognized. His originality allowed him to go from popular hour-glass figured women silhouettes to constructing women’s wear that was more suitable for all women’s bodies.
In the 1950s, the couturier updated the modern silhouette when he added a broad shoulder structure along with a dropped waistline. The design fit the wearer in a more freeform way, contrasting Christian Dior’s “New Look” silhouette, which included a nipped waistline. 
He continued to push to transform women’s fashion in the 60s, including through his use of different fabrics, including bold, heavy materials. His designs gained global attention as he modeled his designs on celebrity clients such as American socialite Babe Paley, horticulturist Bunny Mellon, designer Pauline de Rothschild, actress Ava Gardener, fashion icon Gloria Guinness and philanthropist Mona von Bismarck. Jackie Kennedy was also known to wear Balenciaga’s designs. In 1960, he created a wedding gown for nurse and writer Fabiola de Mora y Aragón when she married the King of Belgium. 
As hats became a popular addition in the 60s and clients wanted to match their hats with their outfits, Balenciaga worked with hat designers in Paris, Wladzio d’Attainville and Ramón Esparza. Balenciaga became known for his couture pillbox hats, which were especially popular in the ’60s.

In April 1962, Vogue said of Balenciaga’s effect on women’s fashion that “Whatever it takes to hold vast numbers of women in the palm of your hand year after year, Balenciaga has it.…Not that his clothes are easy to wear; on the contrary, they could hardly be more demanding — of elegance, wit, of real clothes authority.”
Retirement
In 1968, Balenciaga decided to close his fashion house at the age of 74. He had worked in Paris for more than 30 years and was ready to retire. He closed his stores in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid.
When Balenciaga closed his doors, he believed that fashion was going in a different direction. Fashion houses Dior and Chanel had started to focus on ready-to-wear, which seemed to be where the fashion industry was headed. Balenciaga was purely devoted to couture. 
Balenciaga died on Match 23, 1972, in Xàbia, Spain. On the day of his death, WWD ran the headline “The King Is Dead,” announcing the couturier’s death to the world. Two days later, the legendary designer was laid to rest in Getaria cemetery. French-American fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland said: “Balenciaga gave the world fashion. He was the beginning of everything, everything that is news — forever. Mention anything, raincoats, black stockings, the most luxurious fashions in the world — great fabrics…the color, the color, good God, the color. I used to have my secretary sit next to me at the collections and take down his marvelous combinations of color. He gave the world fashion. He gave the femmes du monde clothes,” per WWD.
The Balenciaga Brand Is Resurrected

Nicolas Ghesquière takes a bow after his spring show in Paris in October, his final collection for the house.

In 1986, Jacques Bogart SA, a French holding company that manufactures and distributes cosmetics, skin care and perfume, acquired the rights to Balenciaga. Michel Goma designed its ready-to-wear offering from 1987 to 1992. Josephus Thimister then took over as designer until 1997.
Nicolas Ghesquière, now the creative director for Louis Vuitton, cut his teeth at the brand from 1997 until 2012. Gucci Group, part of PPR, which would later become Kering, acquired Balenciaga in 2001.
Ghesquière’s tenure saw the brand become a young celebrity favorite, especially in regards to its accessories. Early 2000s figures like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan were frequently seen with its “It” bag, the Motorcycle Bag, which became synonymous with the Balenciaga name.

Ghesquière departed the house to replace Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton in November 2012. Alexander Wang took the reigns from December 2012 to October 2015.
Balenciaga Today

Cédric Charbit, Demna Gvasalia and François-Henri Pinault.

In 2015, Demna Gvasalia was named creative director of Balenciaga. Gvasalia’s work for the brand has a similar ethos to that of the late courtier, with its passion for couture with a modern touch. In an interview, Gvasalia told WWD, “I would say couture is probably the coolest thing that fashion can have a conversation about today.” He continued, “Bringing couture into the modern context and communicating it to the current audience. A lot of people don’t even know that Balenciaga is a 100-plus-year-old couture brand. They think it’s a brand that started with the Triple S sneaker. So in a way, it’s kind of educational, but also putting in the spotlight what is the most important thing about fashion, and to me, couture is the purest expression of that.”
In July 2021, Balengiaca debuted high-fashion haute couture silhouettes for the first time in 53 years. In an exclusive interview with Balenciaga, Gvasalia told WWD that couture has a future of being a driving force in fashion again. “Couture represents freedom of creativity and freedom in fashion. And that’s maybe the reason why I wanted to do it so badly,” he said. “I believe strongly that couture actually may save fashion in its modern way.” 
Gvasalia also made sure a piece of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original creations were featured in the debut. A white wedding gown, similar to one from the late founder’s 1967 collection, was featured in the show and was later worn by Skims founder Kim Kardashian West at one of her soon-to-be-ex-husband Kanye West’s Donda events. 
Balenciaga endures today as one of the industry’s most respected brands and the original designer’s legacy continues as the house he built challenges fashion barriers.

Nicolas Ghesquière’s Hit Parade: The Shoes and Bags of Louis Vuitton

Nicolas Ghesquière’s Hit Parade: The Shoes and Bags of Louis Vuitton

When Nicolas Ghesquière put cozy, waterproof down-filled boots on his five finale looks for Louis Vuitton’s spring 2021 fashion show, he “had a good feeling about it.”
“My intuition was telling me that it could be [a hit], but honestly, until you reveal it, who knows?” he said in an interview this week.
So far, the Pillow Boot seems to be a phenomenon, and poised to enter the lexicon of hit shoes and handbags Ghesquière has racked up since being named artistic director of Vuitton’s women’s collections in 2013.
“It’s important to know that the fashion show is bringing things that are really selling in quantity,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s always like that, obviously. But it happens a lot.”

His handbag hits include the Petite-Malle, Dauphine, Coussin, Boite Chapeau and Twist bags, considered new classics by now — and also a vibrant slate of fashion shoes.
“I love to do shoes, and we have created a wardrobe of shoes since I arrived. It’s incredible to see that the shoes we showed in Palm Springs five years ago is still one of the best sellers,” he said, referring to the platform boot known as the Laureate. His futuristic Archlight sneakers, chunky Star Trail combat style and second-skin Silhouette boots with heels in the shape of a monogram flower are also in this elite league.
A monogram backpack from that 2015 Palm Springs display has also entered the lexicon of Vuitton “It” bags.

EXCLUSIVE: As It Turns 60, Courrèges Takes a New Direction

EXCLUSIVE: As It Turns 60, Courrèges Takes a New Direction

PARIS — As it celebrates its 60th anniversary, the house of Courrèges is starting over with a new tandem tasked with reviving the Space Age label.
Artistic director Nicolas Di Felice, who spent most of his career working alongside Nicolas Ghesquière, will present his first collection on Wednesday during Paris Fashion Week. This will be followed by the opening of a second store in Paris, which chief executive officer Adrien Da Maia hopes will draw in a younger, more fashionable crowd.
In an exclusive joint interview with WWD, the two men laid out their vision for the brand founded in 1961 by André Courrèges and his wife Coqueline. Now owned by Artémis, the family holding company of French billionaire François Pinault, the house is starting again from scratch, but with an aesthetic firmly anchored in its hugely popular vintage designs. 

“Nicolas and I are approaching this almost like entrepreneurs. We’re writing a new story for this house,” Da Maia said. “It needs an artistic director who understands its heritage, but who is resolutely modern.”
Di Felice teased his vision with a film in December showing couples making out, and a New Year’s advertising campaign consisting of the word “Courage” on a white background. 
“I’m a romantic,” he said, explaining that his fascination with love and human connection has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. “This is what I’m bringing new to Courrèges.”

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In time-honored tradition, the designer began his tenure by delving into the house’s archives: 10,000 pieces of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, and more than 50,000 documents, according to a recent inventory. But what spoke to him were not its signature clinical white dresses and go-go boots. 
Instead, the 37-year-old found an edgier side to Courrèges that chimes with his Belgian temperament and training at La-Cambre fashion school in Brussels. A case in point: the opening credits of the 1973 political satire “Moi y’en a vouloir des sous,” showing models in bright Courrèges outfits hurling paving stones at riot police — a nod to the 1968 student protests in Paris.
“With Courrèges, people tended to always show the same images of girls in wigs dancing and laughing. It was really dated,” Di Felice said. “My favorite Courrèges fashion show is from 1972, and it was held at a wrecking yard. You never see that one, because it’s dark. The models look like dots of color against the grayness.”
As someone who has always enjoyed the technical aspect of clothing, he appreciates the directness of the Courrèges approach: geometric shapes and blocks of color used to graphic effect.
“It’s minimal. André Courrèges created a total universe, which to me is radical. That’s something that spoke to me right away, because I’m not big on embellishment. I don’t like using prints for the sake of it — it must be my northern side,” he said.
The approach is reflected in the recent renovation of the Courrèges flagship on Rue François-1er in Paris. Belgian architect Bernard Dubois directed the overhaul of the minimalist, all-cream space, which is covered in carpet, with fabric on the walls and ceilings.

Courrèges has refurbished its Paris flagship.  Courtesy of Courrèges

On the racks are reedited house icons, including the label’s signature cropped vinyl jackets in shades ranging from maroon, navy and black to sunflower yellow, baby pink and electric blue. Every item features the logo of the house, which has been reworked to bring it closer to the original, after several restylings in recent years. 
Jackets retail for 750 euros and coats for 990 euros, while bags go from 190 euros to 470 euros. Da Maia said it was important to find an attractive quality and price positioning for the seasonless collection, which won’t be discounted. 
“We wanted our collections to speak to a new generation that wants to buy smarter,” the executive said. “There is too much product on the market, so you can’t relaunch a house in 2021 without having a very considered approach to the clothes, the prices and the communication.”
As one of the pioneers of ready-to-wear, Courrèges introduced a standardized, industrial approach in the early 1970s, which in part explains the thriving resale market for his original creations.  
The owner of several vintage Courrèges pieces himself, Di Felice has delved into the Instagram accounts of brand devotees and is keen to capitalize on their loyalty with his first full collection. “It would be bad if it made the girls who own the vintage stuff look outmoded,” he said.
“I want to propose products that are creative but still wearable. I love cutting, so we do a lot of fittings. The clothes should make you look good, and they should be made in a way that respects the environment and good labor conditions. Above all, they should be the type of clothes you won’t want to throw away after six months,” he said.
On his mood board for fall 2021 were archival looks including a 1960s-era kimono coat with prominent seams, and a spring 1963 checked skirt suit, both strongly influenced by Balenciaga, where Courrèges worked for a decade before striking out on his own. 
It’s reminiscent of one of Ghesquière’s most memorable collections for Balenciaga, his fall 2006 lineup of short checked tweed suits and cocoon coats — though Di Felice only joined the team two years later in 2008. He later worked under Ghesquière again at Louis Vuitton, rising to senior women’s wear designer.
“I’m sure there are people who will say my work reminds them of Nicolas’, just as people said Nicolas’ work reminded them of Courrèges sometimes. I’m expecting it, but I’m not going to renege where I come from,” the designer said. 
“Working alongside him was incredible. It never ceased being inspiring,” Di Felice added. “He’s constantly researching. It allowed me to attain an even greater degree of technical know-how and precision, which may be a pain for other people, but is nonetheless incredible, so I’m not looking to break away from that.”
He’s the latest designer to rise to stardom from Ghesquière’s ranks: Julien Dossena was named creative director of Paco Rabanne, another prominent label born in the Sixties, after working as a senior designer at Balenciaga. Natacha Ramsay-Levi, until recently creative director of Chloé, was also a longtime key associate of Ghesquière’s.
“I wasn’t hellbent on becoming artistic director. But I got to 35 and I thought to myself, it would be great in terms of my job evolution to be able to express myself, but also to really dig deep into a brand,” Di Felice said.
“I’m not going to lie, there are very few houses that I think I would have felt comfortable taking over,” he added. “I feel good here. I’m lucky enough to work with an incredible heritage.”
His first designs mix a purist approach — a trim white coat uses the same pattern as a Sixties original, but in a much more user-friendly, lightweight fabric — with tougher pieces inspired by his love of clubbing and electronic music. Think a black vinyl top with cutouts running across the arms, or a leather biker jacket with a wool collar.
This is the third attempt to revive Courrèges since former Young & Rubicam ad executives Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting bought the label from its founders in 2011 and set about relaunching it through collaborations with companies including The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Eastpak and Evian.
In 2015, they appointed design duo Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, who during their two-year tenure designed their presentations like mini Apple-product launches, and introduced tech touches like heated coats.
Having sold an initial stake to Artémis in 2015, Bungert and Torloting left in 2018, leaving Pinault in full control. Around the same time, the company underwent a restructuring that resulted in the closure of its historic production facility in the southern French city of Pau, where Courrèges once employed almost 300 seamstresses.
Artémis installed Acne Studios alums Christina Ahlers and Yolanda Zobel as CEO and artistic director, respectively. Zobel brought an industrial vibe to the brand and pledged to discontinue production of its signature vinyl, citing environmental concerns.  
Adrien Da Maia  Courtesy of Courrèges

Da Maia noted the brand has eliminated all licenses and has no plans for collaborations. Production takes place in Portugal, Italy and France, and Courrèges has worked with an Italian manufacturer to develop a more sustainable vinyl, with a base made of recycled jersey and a plastic coating that is 70 percent vegetable-based.
Though it no longer has any stores outside of France, the brand plans to open a smaller boutique in the upper Marais district of Paris this month, also designed by Dubois. “This store will allow us to create a bridge to younger customers, without denigrating the history of the house and its historic flagship,” Da Maia explained.   
Courrèges plans to expand e-commerce, currently available only in Europe, to key markets including the U.S. in March, and Japan in the second half of the year, with China to follow in 2022. Though the fall collection is not see now, buy now, Da Maia hopes to have some products available for sale shortly after the show. 
He hinted that a new perfume is also in the works. Known for fragrances like Empreinte and Eau de Courrèges, the company now develops its fragrances in-house. “Perfume is part of the history of the house and is something we feel strongly about,” said Da Maia. “I think it’s also a great way to make Courrèges more democratic again.” 
Despite its prestigious backer, the house is setting its course outside the framework of a major luxury group. Artémis is the majority shareholder of Kering, the parent company of brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, led by its chairman, François-Henri Pinault, the son of company founder François Pinault.
But the only other fashion asset in the Artémis portfolio is a minority stake in Giambattista Valli. The group’s other properties include the auction house Christie’s, the Château Latour vineyard, the luxury cruise specialist Ponant and the Stade Rennais Football Club. Artemis also has a stake in Farfetch.
Da Maia said it was an advantage for a smaller brand like Courrèges, which employs 65 people, not to be subjected to the scrutiny of a listed entity.
“It allows us to be supported with none of the constraints of a large group, which means we are free to innovate and create a modern narrative for this house, without being hemmed in by a rigid business plan. That’s the kind of energy a brand needs to grow,” he concluded. 
See also: 
Courrèges Launches Film, Redesigns Paris Flagship
André Courrèges: Space Age Couturier
Courrèges Appoints Nicolas Di Felice as Artistic Director

Louis Vuitton Expands in Tokyo With New Tower, Café — and Chocolate Shop

Louis Vuitton Expands in Tokyo With New Tower, Café — and Chocolate Shop

Louis Vuitton’s long, close and fruitful relationship with Japan will reach another zenith in March with an exhibition chronicling its extensive collaborations there, plus a new glass tower in Ginza incorporating a boutique, LV Café, and Vuitton’s latest surprising brand extension: chocolates.
Slated to open March 17, the new seven-story Ginza Namiki building rises from a site Vuitton has occupied for 40 years, while the “Louis Vuitton &” exhibition — drawing on 160 years of cultural exchange and highlighting high-profile collaborations with the likes of Rei Kawakubo and Takashi Murakami — opens March 19 for a two-month run.
Disclosing the twin developments in an exclusive interview, Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Vuitton, said it’s all about engagement with one of the most advanced and sophisticated luxury markets in the world.

Moreover, he said the twin projects are emblematic of a new era of bespoke stores, events and content.
“It’s not about taking what we did in Paris and replicating that in Tokyo,” he said. “You don’t come to Japan, do a store opening and then come back 10 years later. It’s about engagement that is daily, weekly, monthly. There’s always something going on.
“It’s not about buzz, or image or advertising campaigns or a store opening — the usual suspects,” he continued, calling the readiness of the building now — almost five years in the making — “fortuitous,” and yet another example of cultural exchange, noting its undulating facade evokes the waves of Tokyo Bay, and that the eatery was conceived by famed Japanese chef Yosuke Suga, who also developed the flavors for Le Chocolat V.

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“Proper engagement is not just about store openings — that’s a commercial activity. But what we have to be involved with goes way beyond commercial, it’s cultural,” he stressed.
Cue the exhibitions, whose 10 rooms unfurl an impressive array of creative exchanges and artistic collaborations, with a particular focus on Japan, given that the likes of Kawakubo, Fragment’s Hiroshi Fujiwara and the late Kansai Yamamoto have all co-created products or done special projects for Vuitton, as have the artists Yayoi Kusama and Murakami, whose colorful interpretation of Vuitton’s famous monogram —scattered with a few eyeballs — were a blockbuster and had a 12-year run.
Kawakubo, the fashion maverick behind Comme des Garçons, gets her own room at the exhibition, which reminds visitors that her first fling with Vuitton was designing six “party bags” in 2008, which were showcased at a temporary concept store in Tokyo’s trendy Aoyama district.
Asked by WWD at the time if she viewed Vuitton as a peer, or her antithesis, Kawakubo replied: “I think the keeping up of the tradition of making bags from so long ago is wonderful.”
For the new exhibition, Vuitton reproduced Kawakubo’s Bag With Holes — from a 2014 collaboration to mark the 160th anniversary of the brand — in a giant scale. The unusual tote employs the protective cloth sack in which Vuitton leather goods are sold as a liner — to keep the contents from spilling out of the giant openings.
While impressed with the durability and finesse of its monogram canvas, designed to resist everything and never unravel, Kawakubo told Burke, “I want Vuitton to struggle with imperfect” and demonstrated to craftsmen how to fray the edges of the holes punched out of the bags with pliers.

The late Karl Lagerfeld, Helmut Lang, Vivienne Westood, Cindy Sherman, Frank Gehry, Christian Louboutin and Marc Newson are among the varied creative figures who have reinterpreted the monogram over the last 25 years.
It’s well documented that George Vuitton, the only son of founder Louis, winked to a craze for all things Japanese in France around the turn of the century when he created the brand’s brown-and-gold monogram canvas, some of the flower shapes reminiscent of cherry blossoms. A 2016 Vuitton exhibition in Tokyo also documented the monogram’s likeness to Japanese family crests, which hold strong emotional sway and helped fan the island nation’s affection for Vuitton’s leather goods. Meanwhile, Japan-inspired Vuitton with its extreme attention to detail, and obsession with quality products and impeccable service.
The new exhibition at Jing, a glass building in Harajuku, opens with a bespoke multimedia installation by visual and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, cuing up a dialogue between the historic trunk-maker, founded in 1854, and its dalliances with a range of Japanese and international creatives.
Among interesting historical tidbits highlighted in the show are Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s 1921 visit to Paris, for which Vuitton redesigned the facade of its Avenue des Champs-Élysées store to depict the Land of the Rising Sun. Visitors can gawk at a reproduction of Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s famous window display, depicting a rustic garden with a stone lantern.
More recent artifacts on display are to include ready-to-wear from Vuitton’s 2018 cruise collection by Nicolas Ghesquière, unveiled at the Miho Museum in Kyoto and featuring motifs by Kansai Yamamoto, who paved the way for Japanese designers in Europe. There are men’s looks, too, including Nigo’s Mount Fuji bomber jacket from 2020 and the opening look from Virgil Abloh’s spring 2021 men’s collection for Vuitton, presented in Tokyo.
The seven-story Ginza Namiki tower itself represents a mammoth example of cultural dialogue between two star architects: Japan’s Jun Aoki and American Peter Marino.
“We think that architecture and luxury work hand in hand, and our clients expect us to make an architectural statement today when we open in a location as iconic as Ginza,” Burke explained over Zoom. “Again, it’s not just about ringing the till. It’s about engaging with a Japanese architect, engaging with the urban planning of Ginza, engaging with the origins and the providence of Ginza.”
To wit: Its mesmerizing, color-shifting outer shell recalls that the Ginza neighborhood was once a sandbar peninsula before Tokyo reclaimed more land, and its blue tint evokes the morning sun shimmering on Tokyo Bay.

Water metaphors recur throughout the store interior: A four-story “feature wall” in plaster reinterprets Kimiko Fujimura’s 1977 painting “Wave Blue Line,” while rounded counters, ceiling panels and furniture by Isamu Noguchi contribute to a “sense of flow,” according to Vuitton.
Vibrant color can be found throughout: in the furniture by Pierre Paulin and Stefan Leo; in artworks by Ed Moses and Vik Muniz, and in carpets and design objects. A scheme of pink and orange plays out on the women’s floor; red, turquoise and lime on the men’s.
Marino has cited “fun” and “happiness” as new watchwords in luxury retail. But according to Burke, “even before fun, what we wanted to do is the opposite of replication,” convinced that Japan is leading the return of luxury to its bespoke ways after a long period when “luxury had more to do with exquisite replication.”
“It’s a much more interesting time in Japan because Japan is reconnecting with its past, which is all about uniqueness and bespoke. And that’s what we’re doing with our stores. Every single store is a very unique exercise,” he said.
The store boasts VIP and VIC salons on the sixth floor, a smattering of its travel-inspired design objects, known as Objets Nomades, and a host of exclusive products, including a re-edition of Kawakubo’s Bag With Holes, the men’s LV Ollie sneaker and a slim Tambour with blue and purple sequins.
Le Café LV and Le Chocolat V, located on the uppermost floor, represent a further push into hospitality for Vuitton, which has indicated that eateries and even hotels could be a future expansion avenue for the megabrand.
In January 2020, Vuitton opened its first restaurant within its new flagship boutique in Osaka, Japan, also helmed by Suga.
Burke noted the Tokyo café is a more casual eatery than the “very exclusive” Sugalabo V in Osaka, which gets booked up months, if not years, in advance.
“A store is not just about objects and purchasing objects. The latter is a beneficial consequence of creating engagement, but it’s not the objective. The objective is engaging with your clients in every single city,” Burke said. “They’re demanding a Vuitton point of view on their city.”
The chocolates, to be sold in boxes of four, nine, 16 and 125 pieces, come in squares or molded into the shapes within the famous LV monogram. Given travel restrictions, Burke had not yet had the chance to taste them, though he hinted the packaging is a feat.
“Most importantly, it’s about creating an experience,” Burke said. “How do you translate Vuitton into food? You know, we successfully translated trunks into fashion. So it’s a creative exercise.”
Likewise its fleet of collaborations with various creative figures — from architects and designers to artists — which Burke said are highly appreciated in Japan and seen as an emblem of mutual respect.
Indeed, one unique feature of powerful luxury brands like Vuitton is an ability to bring together creative realms that rarely meet.
“It’s going to be a little bit of an alumni gathering of Japanese artists, and it’s never happened before,” Burke said of the small cocktail planned ahead of the opening, health conditions allowing. “These people have never been together in the same room. So I think it would be a very emotional moment.”
See also:

Louis Vuitton to Unveil Kusama Collaboration

VUITTON’S 100-YEAR DASH

Louis Vuitton Hosts Cruise 2018 Show in Kyoto, Japan

The Designer Shuffle

The Designer Shuffle

While the pandemic put many recruitments on ice, creative renewal was still very much part of the fashion picture in 2020.
Mere weeks before Europe plunged into lockdowns, Prada surprised the fashion world by revealing that Raf Simons would become co-creative director alongside Miuccia Prada — igniting a trend toward coed duos that would unfurl throughout the year.
The move put the Belgian designer — one of fashion’s most acclaimed modernists, and a hero on the streetwear scene — in a position to help shape one of Italy’s biggest brands, and one he had long admired, often sitting in its front row.
In a livestreamed conversation following a digital showing of their debut spring 2021 collection during Milan Fashion Week last September, Prada said it was a spontaneous decision to work together, brewing over time “and suddenly it happened.” Simons said they had “always been interested in each other’s work.”

Having closely observed Prada for 25 years, Simons chose to focus on the uniform. “The idea of a uniform is a representation of longevity. In all honesty, I have been looking at Miuccia, how she is dressed, her uniform. It is what she finds important,” he told WWD.
Two more high-profile designers came together in September when Fendi said Kim Jones would work beside Silvia Venturini Fendi as the Roman house’s artistic director of haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women. Jones, who remains at the creative helm of Dior Men, succeeded the late Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi, which put him in a rare league straddling two marquee luxury brands.

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Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi  Jones photo by Nikolai von Bismarck; Venturini Fendi by Simone Lezzi/WWD

Venturini Fendi, who had soldiered on as the main creative force and media figurehead following Lagerfeld’s death in February 2019, will continue to head the accessories and men’s collections at Fendi. Jones is to unveil his first collection for the brand on Jan. 27 during couture week in Paris, with Venturini Fendi and daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi, jewelry creative director, also involved in the show.
This marks Jones’ first real foray into women’s wear, and adds to a list of men’s wear mavens that have made their mark on women’s fashions in the new millennium, headlined by Simons and Hedi Slimane.
Jones should bring considerable heat to Fendi, given his formidable design chops, flair for unexpected collaborations, and his wide circle of famous friends, which includes Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Donatella Versace and David Beckham.
Industry experts suggest that the onerous demands on today’s creative directors is perhaps better shouldered by two people, with a dialogue between male and female talents fostering more dynamic and nuanced designs in tune with today’s fashions, less gender-specific than ever, and shifting values and priorities.
To wit: In September, Faith Connexion appointed Alexandre Bertrand and Myriam Bensaid as its first creative leading duo. The two 32-year-olds are described as “best friends” and had worked on-and-off for the brand in recent years.
Then in October, Joseph named husband-and-wife team Anna Lundbäck Dyhr and Frederik Dyhr as co-creative directors. The former joined Joseph in November 2018 after holding senior design roles at Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Uniqlo and Cos, while the latter was previously creative director for men’s wear at Tommy Hilfiger.

According to a tabulation by WWD, coed duos head up 7 percent of the brands listed on the official fashion calendars for New York, London, Milan and Paris. Of the 265 fashion houses listed, 51 percent are led by men, 38 percent by women, with the balance a mix of male duos, female duos and collectives or studios.
Matthew Williams  Courtesy of Givenchy

Singular talents prevailed in the other key hires of 2020.
American designer Matthew Williams, whose roller-coaster buckle is one of the hallmarks of his edgy 1017 Alyx 9SM brand, brought his flair for hardware and icy, industrial-tinged glamour to Givenchy, where he succeeded Clare Waight Keller. A ringleader of the burgeoning luxury streetwear scene, Williams was named the French house’s seventh couturier last June and declared that his tenure would be based on “modernity and exclusivity.”
His debut for the spring 2021 season ended up being a showroom affair due to the pandemic, but was still one of the most anticipated events of Paris Fashion Week. His graphic tailoring announced sleek, sharp and modern as the house’s new fashion territory, alongside extreme textile research on casual basics, including jeans coated in resin and paint and triple baked for a cool, crackled finish.
Speaking of jeans, Diesel selected Glenn Martens — prized for his experimental approach to denim at his Y/Project brand — as its new creative director.
Italian industrialist Renzo Rosso, whose OTB group controls Diesel, called the Belgian designer the “perfect fit” for the brand. “I love the way he can pick iconic pieces and reinterpret them, denim in particular, with modernity,” he enthused. “I am happy to hand it over to someone who will carry it forward with new energy and a fresh vision.”

Glenn Marten  Courtesy of Y/Project

Martens’ impact on Diesel is to be fully felt with the spring 2022 collections.
Chloé, which is transforming into a purpose-driven company focused on social and environmental sustainability, took a big step in that direction by recruiting Gabriela Hearst — already synonymous with honest luxury — as its new creative director, succeeding Natacha Ramsay-Levi, who brought an edgy élan to the brand over a four-year tenure.
Hearst is expected to unveil her first collection for the storied French brand in March for the fall 2021 season, and to continue as creative director of her namesake, New York-based fashion house.
Hearst started her label in fall 2015 after taking over the operations of her father’s sheep ranch in Uruguay, and built a luxury women’s rtw and accessories business on the principles of timelessness, quality and sustainability. 
Gabriella Hearst in Paris.  Kuba Dabrowski/WWD

Wilder creatures are synonymous with Roberto Cavalli, which recruited Fausto Puglisi to helm all design functions and put a new spin on its animal prints. Since the exit of Paul Surridge last year, an in-house design team had filled the gap.
“I am honored and proud to carry on the legacy of this extraordinary brand and, above all, to continue to support Roberto Cavalli’s image of glamour and refinement,” said Puglisi, who is to unveil his first collection for the brand in January.
Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton, both a repository and magnet for talent, was implicated in several of the year’s other noteworthy designer moves.
In September, Nicolas Di Felice became the latest member of Nicolas Ghesquière’s inner circle to be put in charge of his own designer brand when he was named artistic director of Courrèges, where he succeeded Yolanda Zobel. His first collection for Courrèges is due in March. (Julien Dossena, another designer who learned the ropes under Ghesquière, helms Paco Rabanne, another Space Age label.)
Vuitton’s formidable leather goods department was involved in a trio of appointments.
In July, Nicholas Knightly, Vuitton’s design director for leather goods since 2004, took up the design helm of Moynat, another 19th-century trunk-maker controlled by luxury titan Bernard Arnault.
Around the same time, acclaimed leather goods designer Johnny Coca joined Vuitton as women’s fashion leather goods director, a new post working as part of the team lead by Ghesquière. Coca had previously wrapped a successful five-year stint as Mulberry’s creative director, and is known for his work under Phoebe Philo at Celine, which became a major player in elite handbags and accessories.
Finally, in an internal promotion revealed exclusively to WWD in November, Vuitton said a seasoned talent in its leather goods department, Darren Spaziani, would expand his role at the luxury giant and take the creative helm of men’s leather goods, in addition to his current responsibilities.

EXCLUSIVE: Virgil Abloh Has a New Wingman for Leather Goods at Vuitton

EXCLUSIVE: Virgil Abloh Has a New Wingman for Leather Goods at Vuitton

Darren Spaziani, a seasoned talent in women’s leather goods at Louis Vuitton, is to expand his role at the luxury giant and take the creative helm of men’s leather goods, in addition to his current responsibilities, WWD has learned.
“Darren has brought his creative vision for women’s leather goods and knows how to perfectly infuse modernity while relying on the craftsmanship and talented teams of the house,” said Delphine Arnault, Vuitton’s executive vice president in charge of supervising all of its product-related activities. “It was very natural to extend his role to the men’s universe.”
The appointment, disclosed exclusively to WWD, puts Spaziani in the unique position of collaborating with two leading fashion designers: Nicolas Ghesquière, Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections since 2013, and Virgil Abloh, who came on board in 2018 as men’s artistic director.

Darren Spaziani  Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

“I am very honored to be able to explore new creative territories and I am looking forward to working with Virgil Abloh and his teams, and the unparalleled craftsmanship for men’s leather goods,” Spaziani said in an internal announcement seen by WWD.
Soft versions of Vuitton’s mini trunks and holographic weekend bags are among the buzzy accessories Abloh has turned out of his studio to date.
As part of its upscaling drive, Vuitton recruited Spaziani in 2013 to spearhead new lines of “very high-end” leather goods, with Arnault touting him at the time as “one of the most talented designers of his generation.”

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He joined Vuitton from Proenza Schouler, home of the popular PS1 bag, where he was director of accessories design.
Spaziani holds a masters degree in fashion from London’s Central Saint Martins, and a B.A. from the London College of Fashion.
The designer, who previously worked at Vuitton from 2004 to 2006, has also been design director of accessories at Balenciaga in Paris and a design consultant for Diane von Furstenberg and Tory Burch in New York.
Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall 2020  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

He takes on his new responsibilities at Vuitton amid other changes in its linchpin leather goods department, and at a time of rapid growth for the men’s division.
Earlier this year, Vuitton snared acclaimed leather goods designer Johnny Coca, who had a successful five-year stint as Mulberry’s creative director, as women’s fashion leather goods director, a new post working as part of the team lead by Ghesquière, and focused primarily on high-end bags and show pieces.
And last February, Vuitton gave Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, a prominent L’Oréal executive it had poached in June 2019, a cross-entity role for all men’s categories, except perfume. Angeloglou was formerly global brand president of L’Oréal Paris and seen as a high-potential executive.
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