Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Back to work with Nicolas Ghesquière

Nicolas Ghesqière

This may seem a little like gossip, but this is honestly, the most inspiring interview I've read in years!! From what seemed like forever ago, you may remember this post on Nicolas Ghesqière's departure from Balenciaga. This interview he did for System magazine is the first time he's spoken publicly about his split from Balenciaga.

At what point into the job at Balenciaga did you realise you needed to wise up to the business side of the brand?
NG: Straight away. It’s part of being a creative because the vision you have ends up in the stores. It actually makes me smile today when I think about it because it was me who had to invent the concept of being commercial at Balenciaga. Right from the start I wanted it to be commercial, but the first group who owned the house didn’t have the first notion of commerce; there was no production team. There was nothing.

What was your vision for the brand?
NG: For me, Balenciaga has a history that is just as important as that of Chanel, even if it’s a lesser-known name. It had the modernity, it was contemporary, and I’ve always positioned it as a little Chanel or Prada.

But what makes Chanel and Prada bigger structures?
NG: The people that surround the designers. Miuccia Prada has an extraordinary partner, whereas I was doing everything by myself.

So without the right people, building something as big as a Chanel or Prada is unimaginable?
NG: I don’t know if it’s impossible, maybe the system will change, but what’s clear is that those brands have family and partners surrounding them, and they have creative carte blanche. Prada, for example, has made this model where you can be a business and an opinion leader at the same time, which is totally admirable. It’s the same thing at Chanel. Sadly, I never had that. I never had a partner, and I ended up feeling too alone. I had a marvellous studio and design team who were close to me, but it started becoming a bureaucracy and gradually became more corporate, until it was no longer even linked to fashion. In the end, it felt as though they just wanted to be like any other house.

You’re saying this spanned from a lack of dialogue?
NG: From the fact that there was no one helping me on the business side, for example.

Can you be more specific?
NG: They wanted to open up a load of stores but in really mediocre spaces, where people weren’t aware of the brand. It was a strategy that I just couldn’t relate to. I found this garage space on Faubourg-Saint-Honoré; I got in contact with the real estate guy who’s a friend of a friend, and we started talking… And when I went back to Balenciaga, the reaction was, ‘Oh no, no, no, not Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, you can’t be serious?’ And I said yes really, the architecture is amazing, it’s not a classic shop. Oh really, really… then six months went by, six long months of negotiations… it was just so frustrating. Everything was like that.

And the conversations, like that one about the store, who would you have them with?
NG: I’d rather not say. There wasn’t really any direction. I think with Karl and Miuccia, you can feel that it’s the creative people who have the power. It was around that time that I heard people saying, ‘Your style is so Balenciaga now, it’s no longer Nicolas Ghesquière, it’s Balenciaga’s style.’ It all became so dehumanised. Everything became an asset for the brand, trying to make it ever more corporate – it was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that Balenciaga has become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore.

When was the first time you felt your ambitions for the house were no longer compatible with Balenciaga’s management?
NG: It was all the time, but especially over the last two or three years it became one frustration after another. It was really that lack of culture which bothered me in the end. The strongest pieces that we made for the catwalk got ignored by the business people. They forgot that in order to get to that easily sellable biker jacket, it had to go via a technically mastered piece that had been shown on the catwalk. I started to become unhappy when I realised that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I’d done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like. This accelerated desire meant they ignored the fact that all the pieces that remain the most popular today are from collections we made ten years ago. They have become classics and will carry on being so. Although the catwalk was extremely rich in ideas and products, there was no follow-up merchandising. With just one jacket we could have triggered whole commercial strategies. It’s what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t do everything. I was switching between the designs for the catwalk and the merchandisable pieces – I became Mr Merchandiser. There was never a merchandiser at Balenciaga, which I regret terribly.

Did you never go to the top of the group and ask for the support you needed?
NG: Yes, endlessly! But they didn’t understand. More than anything else, you need people who understand fashion. There are people I’ve worked with who have never understood how fashion works. They keep saying they love fashion, yet they’ve never actually grasped that this isn’t yoghurt or a piece of furniture – products in the purest sense of the term. They just don’t understand the process at all, and so now they’re transforming it into something much more reproducible and flat.

What’s the alternative to this?
NG: You need to have the right people around you: people who adore the luxury domain. There has to be a vision, but there also has to be a partner, a duo, someone to help you carry it. I haven’t lost hope!

At the time when you were starting to feel that frustration, did you talk to any other designers who were in the same situation?
NG: Yes. What’s interesting is how my split from Balenciaga has encouraged people to get in touch with me, and they’ve said, ‘Me too, I’m in the same situation. I want to leave too.’ There are others, but my situation at Balenciaga was very particular.

In spite of the increasingly stifling conditions you felt you were operating in, were you nonetheless scared by the prospect of leaving Balenciaga?
NG: I just said to myself, ‘Okay, well you have to leave, you have to cut the cord.’ But I didn’t say anything to anyone, apart from to a few very close people, because, you know, I’ve become pretty good at standing on my own two feet.

Once you’d decided enough was enough and you made your intentions clear, was management surprised that you wanted to leave?
NG: Yes. I think so, because I’d shown my ambitions for the house. There’d been lots of discussions, of course, and there were clearly some differences, but that sort of decision doesn’t just come out of nowhere. I’d been thinking a lot too. I was having trouble sleeping at one point. [Laughs] But there’s usually something keeping me awake.

After the announcement, did lots of people in the fashion world contact you?
NG: I didn’t actually see all the reactions straight away because I was in Japan at the time; one of my best friends had taken me on something of a spiritual trip to observe people who make traditional lacquer and obi belts; it was such a privileged environment with tea ceremonies. On the other side of the world, there was this violent announcement being made. When I got back to Paris I saw the press, and with all the commentary going on I actually learnt things about myself; it was quite beautiful in fact. Generally the reaction had been very positive, even on Twitter there were some very satisfactory things being written. Ultimately, I felt okay in the end because it seemed very dignified. I haven’t expressed myself up until now, but I would like to say thank you to everyone, I really am very grateful.

Did you ever think about making a personal announcement?
NG: No, I never wanted to express myself like that. I don’t know how to do that.

What’s the most exciting thing about this period of time for you?
NG: Preparing for the next chapter and having the time to observe what’s going on in the industry. People could have forever associated me with Balenciaga. We saw clearly when the split took place that there was a desire for my name, so I disassociated myself naturally from the house. That could have been a risk. It would have been different if Balenciaga had disassociated itself from me, but people had seen me develop my signature and knew that it might happen. That’s exciting because whatever choice I make, the possibilities are open, and that was confirmed with the freeing of my name from Balenciaga. I’d made so much effort and been such a good obedient kid in associating myself… Now I can imagine a whole new vocabulary. I’m regenerating again, and that’s very exciting because it’s a feeling I haven’t had since I was in my twenties.

Source: Business of Fashion

The full interview will appear in the debut issue of System Magazine which comes out later this week.


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Opposites attract

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There's a reason why they say opposites attract, and it doesn't just refer to people. Some of the best combinations are opposites. Think, black and white, green tea and ice cream, honey and blue vein cheese, leather and lace... And now we're really talking!

Imagine if there were no opposites. Life would honestly be boring because everything would be the same. It's not to say that you can't stick with one particular style, but sometimes it's fun just to change it up a bit, even if just to confuse people.

Let's just say that you're not such a huge fan of change and err on the side of caution and predictability, a tiny twist in your outfit, like leather paired with an extremely feminine outfit, or or a statement ring or necklace can completely change the impact of a whole outfit tenfold.

One Teaspoon leather dress (worn as top) | Forever New lace skirt | Nicholas heels | Forever New bag | A Skulk of Foxes necklace


PS. Excuse the horrible expressions on my face - we were running late, as usual, so I was struggling to concentrate on the task at hand...

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Underneath it all

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This is the first time I've stopped to think about this concept, but what if lingerie and outfits were like wine and food. Yep, mind absolutely blown! A concept the majority of people don't think about until they really appreciate wine is this: do you pick a wine to match your food, or should you base your meal upon your wine selection. Tricky, I know! But what if we visited this thought for lingerie?

If you're like me, and have a penchant for complex and fiddly outfits, you'll understand when I say that more often than not, your outfits dictate the lingerie that you wear for fairly obvious reasons. At the most basic level, no one actually wants to be offender in the all too familiar: "you can actually see the colour of her underwear through her way-too-worn-out-tights" situation!

So what if it were the other way round, and you picked your outfits dependent upon what lingerie you decided to wear. It's almost an argument of the chicken or the egg. Almost. Except nowhere near as complex (and possibly slightly less relevant for many)!

With lingerie this pretty, I'd give this thought a shot...

Anti-clockwise from top LHS: Lalilouche Lily pearl champagne silk padded balcony bra | Mimi Holliday by Damaris Bisou Bisou L'Amour lace plunge bra | Agent Provocateur Skye bra, waspie and briefs | Ohhh Lulu Starlette vintage style soft braAgent Provocateur Ameliah bra, suspenders and briefs


Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Dedale Silver-Tone Crystal Necklace

Sometimes the true beauty of something is not revealed to you until it's waved in your face on a glossy page, paired with other gloriously beautiful items or on the back of a model screaming "BUY ME". Only then do you realise how desperately you need said item. This happens to me a lot. And it obviously works for the masses too, otherwise editorials and magazines wouldn't be as successful as they are.

If you're like me you spend your days working hard trawling through blogs, adding things to my numerous shopping carts that I dream of buying, inspecting 'spam' emails from endless companies and generally just admiring pretty things from behind a computer screen.

While most people delete said spam emails immediately, I go as far as trawling through my junk mail in case I missed any! I could argue that it's my duty to keep up to date, but realistically, it's just how I get my kicks. Incidentally, a 'spam' email is how I came across the Lanvin Dedale silver-tone crystal necklace. So now, I'm just conjuring a list in my head to convince the boy of why I need this particularly spectacular piece. I'm sure there are many...

Lanvin Dedale silver-tone crystal necklace


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

On Top of the World

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Standing at the top of Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, you really feel like you're on top of the world. Or at least at the top of a really special place. (Unexpectedly) Canberra put on a really good show for us when we went down over the weekend, despite us not doing anything we'd actually planned on doing! The views from here are incredible, and watching a thunderstorm coming in was even more spectacular!

In the third picture the blue streaks coming down from the clouds are actually rain coming across the sky (or so I've been told). I find that taking inspiration from the simplest things in life can produce the most amazing results, like watching a storm coming over. And if the sky happens to throw incredible hues which happen to match the colour of your jacket, someone must be on your side that day!

Asos shift dress | Piper Lane jacket | RMK heels | Lovisa ring


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Picnics in Parkas

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Sometimes the most unsuspecting items end up in your floordrobe and end up becoming your most versatile, and most cherished possessions. Take this parka for example. This is yet another item I've stolen from Jay's wardrobe and claimed as my own, and it's never left my sights since. In fact, I've worn it so much so that its cost-per-wear is actually negative (considering the fact that I got it for free!). And stolen boyfriend's items generally always fit. Incidentally, it also makes the best picnic blanket for two, if you ever felt the need.

On that note, I've come to the conclusion that an important criteria in selecting a boyfriend is one where his clothes will fit you, should you ever decide to steal borrow them. It's like the gift that keeps giving... It probably also helps if he's willing to part with his hard-earned purchases (or doesn't notice when you've stolen them)!

Deus Ex Machina parka | Piper Lane knit | Limedrop dress | Sylvie Markovina coin ringCookoo watch (borrowed from Jay) | Asos Maisy loafers


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Daisy Chains

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Remember when you were young and you could sit for hours in the midst of a clover patch just happily making daisy chains, or sit and feed the ducks? That's what this dress reminds me of. Blissful youth - the times sans stress, deadlines or managing multiple campaigns.
And for this reason alone, this dress makes my perfect work outfit. In a space where you need to muster every ounce of creativity in a crazy busy environment, wearing something that brightens your day just that tiny bit helps so much!

Hi There by Karen Walker dress | Shoobiz shoes | Asos bow link necklace | Chanel sunglasses | Vintage belt | My beloved (and much overused) Karl bag


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sail Away

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Sometimes we get so caught up with life in general that we forget to look around and appreciate the little things. I'm definitely guilty of this. So this is what I'm trying to do here. In the wee hours of the morning in Sydney, in a sailor dress. Because honestly, who doesn't need a sailor dress!

Realistically though, it honestly does appear that the grass is always greener. All my friends from overseas gush about how beautiful Australia is, while those of us who live here can't wait to leave! As much as I'd love to move to Paris, I'm still tied to Sydney. And it's still a gorgeous city.

Vintage dress | Asos Maisy loafers | Cheap Monday Foretell ring | A Skulk of Foxes horse necklace | Karl shoulder bag