Editor's Pick: Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière 1997–2012

Following Ghesquière's surprise departure, the Dazed fashion team pick their favourite archive looks

Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière SS01 selected by
Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière SS01 selected by Nell Kalonji

Yesterday Nicolas Ghesquière gave the US election competition for online noise, with the news that he is to depart from Balenciaga after 15 years at the house sending a shockwave through the fashion industry.


The designer, born in the small French town of Comines and raised in Loudon, began his role as creative director in 1997 replacing previous designer Josephus Thimister, who was fired after the audience walked out of one of his shows, Add N to (X)'s ear bleeding live soundtrack the culprit.

26 year-old Ghesquière arrived through the back door at the company after designing licensed clothing for Japan – none so glamourous golfwear, wedding and funeral clothes. It was his affection for the brand which woke the sleeping beauty up, which had been in stasis after Cristobal Balenciaga, its Spanish founder, retired in 1968 and died in 1972. He is regarded as one of the greatest couturiers of all time.

A child of the 80s with a very definite vision of an empowered, modern woman, Ghesquière began generating quiet acclaim in a climate where Paris was ready to feel breeze of a new fashion generation. In 2001 Gucci Group (now PPR) saw his potential, investing in the brand and giving Ghesquière the keys to build an empire.

With muses Charlotte Gainsbourg, Françoise Hardy, Stephanie de Monaco, Kristen Stewart – and a touch of Star Wars' Princess Leia – over the years, as well as spirited office workers for AW12, Ghesquière orchestrated a wardrobe dichotomy of sci-fi military in unimagined fabrics and 'normal' clothes, such as high-waisted jeans, varsity and flight jackets and micro-blazers made odd and hyper covetable. Despite the instensity of his killer showpieces like handpainted latex coats and C3P0 gold leggings, there's something really cerebral and rewarding about the latter approach – this is a designer who speaks to our everyday just as powerfully.

Dazed's fashion team; senior fashion editor Robbie Spencer, senior contributing fashion editor Katie Shillingford, deputy editors Emma Wyman and Elizabeth Fraser-Bell, fashion features editor Dean Mayo Davies and AnOther deputy fashion editor Nell Kallonji celebrate the best of Ghesquière's decade and a half steering the house, picking their favourite looks from the catwalk.

"SS08 was my all time favourite Ghesquière for Balenciaga collection," Robbie Spencer shares. "There seemed to be the perfect harmony between old and new Balenciaga, the proportions and ridged tulip-like shapes in such modern couture fabrics, topped off with one of the houses' best campaigns by David Sims – which featured one of my favourite, incredibly underrated, actresses of all time, Jennifer Connelly."

"My favourite Balenciaga looks are the casual ones, such a definition of Ghesquière's ideal woman," Emma Wyman adds. "I remember the scuba collection of SS03 vividly, the silhouette was so amazing and exciting."

Click HERE for Balenciaga editorial from the Dazed archive, an anthology of the avantgarde
 

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