Here’s five things you need to know about the house’s newly appointed artistic director
In what is undoubtedly one of the greatest power moves of 2015, VETEMENTS designer Demna Gvasalia has been announced as Alexander Wang’s successor as creative director of Kering-owned label Balenciaga. Balenciaga chief executive officer and president Isabelle Guichot made the announcement in WWD this morning, saying:
“We really wanted somebody that has a vision, and someone capable of reshuffling the cards. I was really amazed by his ability to develop an approach to the brand that was really new and that was really his own…what should be the attitude, what should be the silhouette, what should be the volumes.”
At the end of July, Kering announced that they would not be renewing Alexander Wang’s contract and that the designer wanted to focus his attention on his own label. This month, at Paris Fashion Week, Wang showed his final collection for the house after three years at the helm.
Naturally Kering’s announcement triggered multiple rumours as to the designer’s successor; from Paco Rabanne creative director Julien Dossena to Moroccan-French couturier Bouchra Jarrar, both of whom worked under Nicholas Ghesquière during his tenure at Balenciaga. Instead of choosing a Balenciaga alumnus however, Kering has opted for Gvasalia, who will stage his first show in March next year.
But who is the designer? Here’s five things you need to know about the house’s newly appointed artistic director.
Hailing from ex-Soviet Georgia, Gvasalia is 34 years of age, and first studied economics at Tbilisi State University. Like the Antwerp Six designers and Martin Margiela before him, he learned his fashion skills at Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, graduating with a Masters degree. He’s now based in Paris where he is primarily known for his work for VETEMENTS, the anonymous Parisian fashion collective for whom he is the sole spokesperson.
HE’S ONE OF VETEMENTS KEY DESIGNERS
In the label’s short, four-season life, VETEMENTS has become one of Paris’s most talked-about brands, gaining fans in Rihanna, Kanye West and LVMH (it was nominated for the Young Designer Prize). Comprising of eight designers, the brand is cited as bringing a youthful and somewhat anarchic energy to the city’s fashion scene, which is typically associated with haute couture ateliers and established fashion houses as opposed to youth culture. “I feel like there is a new energy in (Paris),” he said in a Dazed interview. “We want to push it – not necessarily to bring anything back, but to give it a new life. Things are still quite dusty, old and conservative.” A good illustration of this is the venue of label’s AW15 show – a sex club called Le Dépot.
“I feel like there is a new energy in (Paris). We want to push it – not necessarily to bring anything back, but to give it a new life. Things are still quite dusty, old and conservative” – Demna Gvasalia
HE’S BEEN DESCRIBED AS MARTIN MARGIELA’S “SPIRITUAL SON”
Not only did Gvasalia attend the same university as Martin Margiela, but he also spent three years honing his craft, working as senior designer (and, we assume, wearing a white lab coat) at the famously elusive designer’s namesake house. While this was after the founder had left the company, a recruiter who worked with Mr Margiela recently described Gvasalia as the designer’s “spiritual son,” who offers something that “goes beyond the notion of fashion.” Aside from this, VETEMENTS’ veil of anonymity and deconstructionist approach to design has also sparked to comparisons with Margiela.
HE LEARNT LUXURY AT LOUIS VUITTON
Another post to add to Gvasalia’s CV is that of senior womenswear designer at Louis Vuitton. During his time at the LVMH-owned label, he worked under both Marc Jacobs and Nicholas Ghesquière. While Gvasalia’s name is linked with notions of youthful energy because of his association with VETEMENTS, he also has some weighty experience at an established luxury house like LV.
HE HAS A GANG OF UNDERGROUND CREATIVES
Gvasalia is surrounded by a plethora of like-minded people. He cites his friends as his primary inspiration and casts them in VETEMENTS’ shows – who better to encapsulate his vision? Fashion’s leading female photographer Harley Weir, Russian designer and photographer Gosha Rubchinskiy and Dazed contributing fashion editor Lotta Volkova Adam are all members of his crew and have walked in VETEMENTS’ shows (in fact, Volka styles them too). French DJ and producer Clara 3000 (check out her Soundcloud here) is another friend, one who he enlisted to create the soundtrack for VETEMENTS SS16 show. A leading figure on the city’s underground fashion scene he is to Paris (in a sense) what Shayne Oliver is to New York.