Today's news that Nicolas Ghesquière and Balenciaga are parting ways came as a shock, even to fashion followers who've grown accustomed to shocking news in recent years. In a press statement, PPR boss François-Henri Pinault affirmed that it was a "joint decision" and praised the 15-year star designer by saying, "With an incomparable creative talent, Nicolas has brought to Balenciaga an artistic contribution essential to the unique influence of the house.”
Following the initial shock, the news was met with a swirl of speculation. Who'll replace him? Where will he go? Why is he leaving? Here's what we're hearing from a source in Paris familiar with the circumstances, who asked to remain anonymous due to the delicate nature of the situation. For several seasons Ghesquière has requested more resources to develop the brand, for things like research, advertising, and building the team. For whatever reason, however, it seems PPR has been reluctant to do so. But it wasn't until the return of Hedi Slimane to Saint Laurent, with apparent carte blanche and unlimited budgets, that Ghesquière decided it was time to leave. Which isn't to say there was any bad blood between the two PPR stablemates, just a difference in business models.
Perhaps even more intriguing is what we hear Ghesquière's next plans may be—specifically, a move to Louis Vuitton, taking over for Marc Jacobs whenever he decides to leave, possibly within the next few seasons. LVMH chief Bernard Arnault has said before that the designer he would most like to have on his team is Nicolas Ghesquière. That would free up Jacobs to focus on his own brand or even pursue Chanel, where it's generally agreed he would be a natural fit. Another theory has Arnault setting up an eponymous label for Ghesquière.
An even more pressing question might be: Who'll replace Ghesquière, who's so single-handedly and single-mindedly turned Balenciaga into the creative powerhouse it is? It's hard to imagine anyone else at the helm, which is why we suspect it'll be someone young, unknown, and talented, as the designer was when he started there at the age of 25.