What to expect from Nicolas Ghesquière at Vuitton

The ex-Balenciaga designer has just landed the top job at Vuitton. Here's what to look forward to

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Nicolas Ghesquiere

This afternoon, Louis Vuitton tweeted the news that Nicolas Ghesquière is set to join the label as artistic director of womenswear. The announcement confirms the rumours that Ghesquière would take over from Marc Jacobs when the latter announced his SS14 collection would be his last for Vuitton – and it ends months of feverish speculation about Ghesquière's next move, after Balenciaga parted ways with the designer back in November 2013. 

The two designers couldn't be more different, but in many ways, the takeover makes perfect sense. There aren't many designers with sufficient industry clout or experience to take over a billion-dollar label, and Ghesquière – having spent 15 years at the top of Balenciaga – is a perfect fit. Dazed looks at what you can look forward to from Ghesquière at Vuitton. 

Louis Vuitton AW12
The life-size train set on AW12 Morgan O'Donovan

The joy of sets

Jacobs' tenure at Louis Vuitton was marked by a penchant for elaborate runway spectacle – from the fully-sized white carousel of SS12 to the Daniel Buren-designed escalator set at SS13. In the show-stopper stakes, they're only really topped by Karl Lagerfeld's creations for Chanel. Makes sense, because both houses are the ones with money to spend on elaborate visual extravaganzas – and while Ghesquière isn't known for his taste for visual spectacle, that might be set to change. 

Louis Vuitton Richard Prince
Richard Prince's collaboration for Louis Vuitton

Artistic collaborations

At Vuitton, Jacobs spearheaded ultra-lucrative collaborations with artists like Richard Price, Stephen Sprouse, Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami in a bid to keep the label fresh and ever-evolving. The profits from Murakimi's collection alone – which only accounted for a small percentage of the Vuitton business – added up to more than the total profits of some competing brands. Wonder which artists Ghesquière will bring to Vuitton? One strong contender is French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who designed the Balenciaga boutiques in New York and Paris. 

Balenciaga AW10
Post-show at Balenciaga AW10 Katie Shillingford

A pared-back Vuitton?

Jacobs flirted with minimalism at Vuitton (his sleek SS99 collection comes to mind), but his heart belongs to excess – his final collection wasn't dedicated to the "showgirl in every one of us" for nothing. Ghesquière, on the other hand, was one of the original pioneers of minimalism in fashion, with his singular, futurist vision of androgyny. It's a far cry from Jacobs' feather-headdress showgirls. 

Balenciaga SS08
Florals from his SS08 were reimagined from the Balenciaga archives

A new eye on the archive

Ghesquière only gained access to the Balenciaga couture archives in 2001, when the label was acquired by the Gucci Group. What followed was a typically Ghesquière retake on the famed archives, resulting in stunning reinterpretations like his update on the archival floral print for his vibrant SS08 collection, where the architectural dresses appeared almost in bloom. One thing's for sure: we can only wait with bated breath to see what he makes of the Vuitton archives. 

Charlotte-Gainsbourg-et-Kate-Barry
Nicolas Ghesquière with long-time muse Charlotte Gainsbourg

A new Vuitton muse

Liya Kebede, Freja Beha Erichsen, even Kristen Stewart and Charlotte Gainsbourg – Ghesquière's superstar models and longstanding muses have distinct looks, personalities and are fundamentally interesting in their own, sometimes undefinable, ways. In contrast, Vuitton isn't afraid to use blockbuster names: aside from its recently-announced menswear campaign with David Bowie, it's also tapped Michelle Williams and er, ex-Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. Who will Ghesquière bring over to Vuitton? 

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