What devastating news! Nicolas' name is so intrinsic with Balenciaga at this point that I can hardly imagine one without the other. He will be sorely missed and his legacy will never be forgotten. Regardless of whether or not you may or may not have loved every collection he ever produced, you have to give the man credit for producing some of the most memorable, recognizable and important designs of the last several decades! He also deserves to be lauded for having such a strong and steadfast vision that adapted itself well to the changing trends over the last 15 years, while never losing any integrity.
In regards to the alleged replacement shortlist -
The idea of Wang at Balenciaga holds as much water for me as the rumor of him going to Dior - which is to say that it holds about as much water as a sieve.
The problem with Altuzarra (among many other problems, really), is that he has made so many obvious references to Nicholas' work that to give Joseph the position would be beyond offensive. And really, I almost feel the same for JW Anderson, in this case. While I prefer JW far more than I do Altuzarra, JW has taken equal amounts of inspiration from Ghesquiere's 15-year tenure at the house. Same goes for Proenza. And they really aren't much of designers in my book as they are garish decorators.
Christopher Kane is too tied to Versace to make any kind of sense at Balenciaga. His visual vocabulary, while stunning and creative as ever, is too tongue in cheek for such a serious house with such serious archives. His humor works perfectly with the self-aware trashiness of Versace.
I, for one, think this position needs to go to someone entirely new. Replacing one of the brightest stars of the 20th-21st century is no easy task, and I can only hope that Gucci Group, PPR and Balenciaga can respectfully find a replacement who comes in with a fresh perspective, no reputation, and a willingness to learn - not some pumped up big shot who already has an agenda up their sleeve.
"DIOR, NOT WAR!"