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11-03-2011
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Balenciaga's Image : Then vs. Now
What would you say is the image behind the house balenciaga?
Has the image of the house changed over the years and how do you evaluate
Nicolas Ghesquiere job as the head designer?

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12-03-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck-lips View Post
What would you say is the image behind the house balenciaga?
Has the image of the house changed over the years and how do you evaluate
Nicolas Ghesquiere job as the head designer?
I'm very ambivalent towards both Ghesquiere and his designs....mostly negative to be quite honest. I find both his aesthetics and attitude unappealing, but he’s now quite inescapable in the fashion scene because he’s now in the “above-it-all” genius role that fashion so loves to assign someone. However, based on what I know and understand of both Cristobal Balenciaga and his designs, I think Ghesquiere is coming from a similar place if not aesthetic.

Both men seem to value maximum control and purity of vision. They seek to be distinct and to appeal to a distinct type of woman. Both men seem to have designed w/ a woman in their head rather than women in general. This woman is, to my mind, full of contradictions. On one hand…she’s no shrinking violet, she’s seeking to be seen. OTOH, she allows someone to impose a very specific look on her w/o much interest in her personal comfort.

They share a love for a certain type of rigidity in both thoughts and garments. For them women are the platform for demonstrating their views of the world on….it’s not just about clothes, but a greater vision w/ these two. Cristobal was definitely inspired by Spanish court costume and a certain type of melodramatic dignity whilst NG seems to have a “Star Trek” meets samurai aesthetic where body type is a huge deal. Personally I found Cristobal’s aesthetic far more appealing and beautiful. He was far more versatile than NG in both range of vision and body types that his clothes would work on. Cristobal seemed more interested in attracting spirited personalities more than merely skinny body types. With Ghesquiere, I think it’s the opposite given the women who seem to actually wear this designs.

Businesswise they definitely have much in common. Banning was/is a weapon for them and both demanded that their clothes be shown exactly as they showed them in their presentations…no deviations, no other designer presence permitted. Even in the 50s-60s, this was somewhat unusual, but in the present time it’s quite singular to demand (and get) entire stories w/ only 1 designer PoV represented. Could one even call THAT an “editorial” in the strictest sense of the word?

At the end of the day, NG seems to understand the spirit of the thing even if his aesthetic is as far from Cristobal’s as chalk is to cheese. I think the fashion world tolerates this sort of behavior from the very few it dubs “geniuses” for a limited time (ie until sells drop off, the celebs get bored, and/or the aesthetic get stale…as is inevitable), but it tends to take it’s revenge eventually on such pretensions. :p Given that he's been one of the few who successfully brought a historical House back to critical and commercial life, his melodrama is tolerated for now but in the end he's still just a hired gun.

In truth, I adore Cristobal Balenciaga's stuff tho this post makes it seem otherwise. I just see the connections between the past and the present here. For the time being, I think NG works at Balenciaga in terms of approach and vision, if not aesthetics.

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12-03-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck-lips View Post
What would you say is the image behind the house balenciaga?
Has the image of the house changed over the years and how do you evaluate
Nicolas Ghesquiere job as the head designer?
there exist few houses in the modern fashion lexicon that evoke such strong iconography as balenciaga yet hold such sway with a modern audience. if one speaks to a woman of a certain age, she will wax rhapsodic over the balenciaga gowns of old as they remain the stuff of outright fashion legend, but by that same token, one cannot run in a fashionable circle without running into a modern city girl with a balenciaga bag hanging on her elbow. it's only nicolas ghesquiere's genius -- not to mention tom ford and domenico del sole's vision in re-igniting that house -- that has landed this house in that vernerable position.

in his refusal to rely on logos or obvious tropes of the house to forage new fashions, or handbags, or fragrances, or footwear, he has set a new high bar in what it means to helm one of these houses. in that way, ghesquiere has set forth a pathway -- no doubt paved with the likes of tastemakers like carine roitfeld and anna wintour -- that has other houses scrambling to follow behind. whether it's tisci at givenchy or dundas at pucci, one finds that the best designers at storied houses have carved out a modern vocabulary that syncs with the contemporary world while preserving the legacy of the houses that employ them.

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20-03-2011
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what balenciaga is today has really nothing to do with cristobal balenciaga and his work, imho...


apples and oranges...

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28-03-2011
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Cristobal Balenciaga (1895 - 1972) is dead. Nicolas Ghesquiere (1971 - ) is alive.

Within the platitude the answer. For, unless we are a curator at the V&A, fashion must always side with the living, must always tend toward the now.

The alternative is to indulge in backward looking, essentialist, historicist sentimentality. But herein lies a particular paradox. Culturally, since 2001 at least (coincidentally the year in which PPR purchased Balenciaga and legend would have it they wanted Nicolas more than the brand in and of itself), the West is marked by a backward looking sentimentality characterised within fashion by the exponentially speedy recycling of retroisms. Fear of the unknown future - a desire for comforting familiarity combined with an ADHD type collective unconscious which craves the thrill of the new to alleviate it's boredom. Schizoid. Fascinating.

Indeed, the very framing of the 'then vs now' question is premised in that retrograde sentimentality. It's a sterile question who's answer is, or should be, axiomatic.

Yet it is a question that the braND managErs at PPR and LVMH do have to grapple with and, with the threats they face from change, I suggest they are faced with a crisis. What do I mean by this-

PPR and LVMH work to reinforce, to perpetuate, braND adherencE. But they do so from within anachronistic structures. In the bricks and mortar/ print world now passing they could Territorialise the attendant Scopic Regime. The web, however, is far too diverse and unmanageable to Territorialise in the same way.

I have realised that I, that we, on this site, are at risk of being guilty of ReTerritorialising the new Scopic Regime for the conglomerrates. That we have been the unwitting and unpaid promoters of the status quo, accessories after the fact. With all that that means for newer designers attempting to be heard and seen. I only have to look to MikeiJames's post in this thread (a writer I respect on here as no other btw) for evidence. The post is bordering on the worshipful. We should all take time to consider the extent to which we have been socialised by the marketing spend of PPR/LVMH down the years.

Because the potential for exciting change exists right here, right now. We can all cite several structural problems faced by the conglomerrates, that the conditions for the established luxury goods market are likely to continue to be beset by challenge, volatility and decline, but I want to focus on this notion of the paradox they face in making the old seem new.

PPR, LVMH, etc know that they must offer the 'new'. They can do no other than attempt to drive the will to consume, to suggest lack. But what, for instance, has Marc Jacobs done with the brand dna at Louis Vuitton. What can we say Louis Vuitton stands for. What will next season's Louis Vuitton collection look like. Nobody knows. At all.

And this season, it seems to me, they've also uncoupled Givenchy from it's dna. And Stella McCartney. Had what Tisci produced come down a Louis Vuitton runway would we have said that can't be Louis Vuitton, there must be some mistake. What now, after that, does Tisci, himself, stand for as a designer. In the pursuit of novelty, in the structural necessity to drive consumption, PPR and LVMH seem to have a strategy of creating braND namEs without any dna. Brands indistinguishable fromone another save for the label. Mere names as pure appearance, floating. braND namEs as a Body Without Organs.

That is an incredible arrogance. It is a misplaced overconfidence in the braND namE alone to deliver adherence via attachment to it's status in and of itself.
What was it Marc Jacobs said this season - something similar to 'I like that I don't know why I like what I like'. Not just vacuousness but conceit at one's own vacuousness. Why should anyone buy Louis Vuitton then Marc? Ultimately what is being said here is do it because I say so. It's authority without reason. It's command without even a pretense of a claim or a narrative. I think and I hope that people react as badly as I do to this sort of arrogance. We are not children. Or..

In the sale of perfume, leather goods and eyewear a braND stratEgy - braND as Body Without Organs may well work. For a time. But in fashion braND allEgiance is highly contingent. In a season where the spirit of Andres Courreges and Pierre Cardin has been reawakened what, we might ask, became of Pierre Cardin as a brand, for instance. A fashion brand is only as strong as what it offers in the here and now. It's hegemony is always already contingent.

A very real problem PPR, LVMH, etc face is that their consumer has changed. The old model, the old structure, of a small fashion elite who hand down buying edicts and a peripheral mass who comply with brand commands and pick up a fragment of perceived status in the form of a bottle of scent or some eyewear, a bag or some shoes; that structure is no more. The lines have blurred. Not only is the cache from consumption under question but we are all informed critics now. (As an aside we might characterise that old consumer as a stink to be masked, an exterior voyeur, an emptiness to be filled, walking therefore requiring of being shod; but denied a body that might appear).

Let's compare Balenciaga with a football club. If the manager or a favourite player moves on from the football club I support I do not switch alliegance and follow that manager or player. When an entrepreneur buys a football club a very real part of what he buys is a set of strong, until death, alliegances of the fan base. The same is not true of the purchase of a fashion brand however steeped in history it might be.

If Nicolas Ghesquiere were to resign from Balenciaga and create an eponymous label (he has said he is waiting for something special before he does) I am fairly confident I would like what he produced. Whether I would like what Balenciaga then offered would be wholly contingent. Who would the new designer be?, what would they produce? In a very real sense Ghesquiere IS Balenciaga.

If the Arnault and Pinault clans have a will to assert the bare authority of their brands it is a misplaced confidence. It might be likened to the pyschic will to growth of the bankers post 9/11. In fashion, history in fact counts for very little indeed. The irony, the paradox, the systemic crisis waiting to happen, is that PPR and LVMH know this and act accordingly yet have to simultaneously deny it. Their braND valuE is inexorably tied up with history, with archival and prior marketing spend based authority, yet they can do no other but produce newness in order to attempt to foster a continued will to consume.

The contingency of the hegemony of a fashion brand is heightened within the reality of a new Scopic Regime that braND conglommeratEs cannot possibly hope to control in the same manner as they have controlled the print based Scopic Regime. Although, so far, we, here, have done a fairly good job of ReTerritorialising the marketing spend from the old Scopic Regime into the new. We are carrying, tracing, brand status across.

I take the debacle at Dior this season to be symptomatic of the impending crisis felt yet denied within the walls of PPR and LVMH etc. I think that when trading conditions are easy the braND ownErs are quite content to allow their Creative Directors a fairly free hand. But when trading conditions become more complex, more 'out of control', (ie how do we target China etc and the West simultaneously, etc) the braND ownErs and their strategists and number crunchers will have a psychic need to assert more control internally. When markets are unstable and shifting the question which markets should be targeted and how becomes problematic and there is a heightened perception that strategy needs to reign. In turn that will cause that uneasy tension between creativity and the demands of shareholders for profit and growth to fizz up. Not an easy environment for designers.

I felt a lack of commitment in Ghesqueire's work this season. A sense that he wasn't firing on all cylinders. Perhaps that eponymous line is closer to the immediate horizon than we think. What then would become of braND BalEnciaga. Would it revert to the sort of Pierre Cardinesque braND cachE it carried pre 1997, pre Ghesquiere. That seems hard to envisage but fashion history is littered with dEad braNDs (Fashion's present is of course populated with living designers: and those who receive less bandwidth than perhaps they might) and the winds of change can blow quite fast. And they will blow with increasing rapidity over the next ten years. Particularly if we want it to be so.

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29-03-2011
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while i agree with the sentiments of tentacl ventricl, i suspect that we sometimes confuse the runway fantasies of the various creative directors at these storied houses with the whole of their contributions of the brand. while one might not have the ability to predict what may come down the catwalk for louis vuitton, i can predict with 99.9% certainty what will appear in the multitudinous vuitton boutiques. speedys, neverfuls, pouchettes accessoires, and keepalls. it's the same story in a balenciaga boutique. it's the same story in a givenchy boutique. it's the same story in most boutiques of most of these brands. these designers must lend direction and vision to these houses, but let's not lose sight of what they're actually doing: shilling handbags, shoes, sunglasses, and the occasional menswear concession.

in that way, i do believe they have managed to contribute to the images of these houses and push their legacies into the future while not upending the historical nature of these houses. the excitement they bring with those sometimes hard-to-follow collections, keeps the dollars pacing inward and the name of that house on the lips of ardent fashion followers. the clothes, really, in the end, remain but an accessory to all of that.

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22-04-2011
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I think you can summerize the old Balenciaga by his own motto "You don't need a body, come to me and I'll give you one."
Nicolas is of course adjusting fashion house into his own vision... which is imo good and thats why he's so popular... because he takes the heritage and makes his own world out of it...
If Nicolas was trying to stay in old tracks it would ruin the house... the times change and so have to fashion houses... especially fashion and art.... designers cannot afford to be stuck in last century.. if you look around, every fashion house stepped out of its aestethics.... Dior, YSL, Givenchy... hmmm?
the houses that didnt, paid for it.... Emanuel Ungaro was so famous for ruffles and flowers but nobody buys it nowadays.... they tried to stay in house aesthetics and they kept changing designers every season blaming them during last decade ending up with Lindsay Lohan! and see how good Giambattista Valli is, when he's not restricted by anybody's aestethics... i think if designer takes over a fashion house, he has to understand the heritage and build a new house onto it... like Galliano with Dior, Alber with Lanvin and Lagerfeld with Chanel... so it's good Nicolas isnt Christobal...
and id describe Nicolas as somebody who mainly focuses on new materials, futuristic looks and desctructualizing clothes into new outfits...


Last edited by StrikingFashion; 22-04-2011 at 04:35 PM.
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24-04-2011
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Several posts in this thread suggest that Cristobal Balenciaga and Ghesquiere share the same vision to mould the body to display their creations. Though this may be a habit of Ghesquiere's, it certainly was not for Balenciaga.
Christian Dior with his New Look was contorting the body to fit his clothes while Balenciaga was cutting his clothes to fit the body, his clothes floating 'a finger's width' from the wearer.
Dior was not Balenciaga's equal; Dior was looking backwards only a matter of decades (like designers of 2011 looking back at the 'seventies and 'nineties) to Victorian corsets and the hourglass, while Balenciaga was creating modern, timeless clothes that even today do not seem dated.
This brings about the comparison to Ghesquiere; they share the same ideas in modernity, and even in exclusivity, but certainly not in mature original wearability - Ghesquiere is about showing the world repeatedly (and recently, rather tiresomely) what way-out but not-too-wonderful ideas he has, batting away the thought of sales and wearers and revelling in the fact that he is the artist at the high-end fashion-art brand, Balenciaga.
Cristobal Balenciaga is about a modest Margiela-type existence, hour-long fashion shows held in absolute silence presenting his unbelievably cut creations and having royalty queueing up for a fitting in his salon.

Ghesquiere has turned Balenciaga into a brand that wholey concentrates on Cristobal's small concern of pushing fashion forward, which is ultimately vulgar.

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