From left to right: Balenciaga SS16, Vetements SS16. Getty
Balenciaga have finally put us all out of our guessing game misery and revealed that Demna Gvasalia, the lead talent behind the Parisian collective Vetements, will replace Alexander Wang as Artistic Director of the Kering-backed, Balenciaga. The 34-year-old German national will reportedly continue to design for Vetements, much like his predecessor Alexander Wang maintained his role at his eponymous label throughout his tenure at the French maison.
Showing just 24-hours apart at Paris Fashion Week – Vetements in a kitschy, old-fashioned Chinese restaurant and Balenciaga in a palacial Parisian chapel – Gvasalia’s appointment was greeted with much anticipation, drawing speculation that he might give the house the similar new life Alessandro Michele brought to Gucci. Demna beat out rumored contenders including Julien Dossena, creative director of Paco Rabanne, Chitose Abe of Sacai and the Proenza Schouler duo, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, for the job.
After graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp, Gvasalia rose through the ranks of Maison Martin Margiela, where he was responsible for the women’s collections between 2009 and 2013. He was then appointed senior designer of women’s ready-to-wear collections at Louis Vuitton, before launching Vetements.
Isabelle Guichot, president and CEO of Balenciaga, praised Gvasalia’s ‘mastery of techniques, his expertise and fashion knowledge’ as well as his ‘innovative and carefully considered approach’, comparing it to Cristobal Balenciaga’s own original vision. François-Henri Pinault, president and CEO of Kering, added: ‘Demna Gvasalia embodies a unique approach to the profession, marked by a sociological observation of the wardrobe’s essentials and the way he remains humble and rigorous in his creative work. I am convinced that he will lead Balenciaga to a successful future.’ Balenciaga is Kering's fourth-biggest fashion label after Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent.
Gvasalia will present his first collection for the brand at the women’s ready-to-wear autumn/winter 2016 show in Paris in March of next year. Will his signature-deconstructed streetwear, workaday materials (leather, denim and jersey) and friends doubling up as models be springing up on the Balenciaga catwalk? Check back in to read Rebecca Lowthorpe’s predictions.