Balenciaga: A Man For All Seasons . . .

Portrait of Alexander Wang by Sebastian Kim (styleexaminer)

{Alexander Wang by Sebastien Kim}

It was announced on the 3rd of December that the high fashion label Balenciaga had appointed Alexander Wang as the new creative director of the historical and revolutionary brand.

Chief executive of the brand, Isabelle Guichot cites Wang’s “modernity and his individual and cosmopolitan vision of design” as just some of the reasons for bringing the 28 year old Taiwanese, California bred, New York based designer on board to steer Balenciaga into the future.

Cristobal Balenciaga Portrait Black and White

Born in the town of Basque on January 21, 1895 to a seamstress mother, Cristobal Balenciaga quickly began his fashion career as a tailor’s apprentice, and by his teens was catapulted to Madrid by Marchioness de Casa Torres, a local noblewoman who saw potential in the young Balenciaga to become a great designer.

He is known as one of the only couturiers in history to possess the artistry and talent to design, cut, and sew his creations. He opened his first boutique in 1919 in the city of San Sebastien, and was forced to Paris in 1937 by the out brink of the Spanish Civil War. There on Avenue George V, Balenciaga opened his house of couture.

Balenciaga Evening Gown 1939

designer-cristobal-balenciaga-and-harper-s-bazaar-editor-in-chief-carmel-snow_

It wouldn’t be until after the war, and into the 1950s that the designer would take his biggest leaps, revolutionizing the shape and form of the woman’s silhouette, and become notable for his unique and modern designs. Often sculptural and completely transformational, Balenciaga’s creations were, and are still, regarded as masterworks in the worlds of haute couture, modern design, and even art.

Balenciaga  Barrel Suit  1951Museo-Cristobal-Balenciaga

cristobal balenciaga - a man for all seasons

Balenciaga would eventually retire from his craft at the age of 74, and in 1968 closed down all houses in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Several designers who had the opportunity to work under the famed auteur of fashion went on to open their own successful and now legendary fashion houses including Hubert De Givenchy, Oscar De La Renta, and Emanuel Ungaro to name a few.

young givenchy + oscar de la renta

{Young Hubert De Givenchy (left) & Oscar De La Renta (right)}

Actress Kristen Stewart and designer Nicolas Ghesquiere

{Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Ghesquiere}

[Courtesy of The Guardian]

It wasn’t until 1997, under the hand of Nicholas Ghesquiere, that Balenciaga became again known as one of the highest and most elite of labels in the fashion world. Like Balenciaga himself, Ghesquiere was self-taught and immediately caught the attention of the media and celebrities with fresh reinterpretations of Balenciaga’s already revolutionary classics such as the sack dress, and semi-fitted jackets.

One of our personal favourites from Ghesquiere’s reign at Balenciaga was delivered on the cusp of threats to fire Ghesquiere by the Gucci Group if the line was unsuccessful within the year 2007.

david sims fall 2007 - balenciaga 1

david sims fall 2007 - balenciaga 4

david sims fall 2007 - balenciaga 5

{Campaign Images for Fall/Winter 2007 by David Sims}

His Fall/Winter 2007 ladies wear collection is an opus to the urban woman. A cultured woman, in the academic sense, as well as the worldly sense. With some careful consideration to tailoring and fit, and the use of eclectic accessories and prints, Ghesquiere breathed new life to the idea of the Preppy female, and blended tailored traditions with the melting pot of our society. Credit Ghesquiere and his F/W 2007 collection for that “World Traveller” look that we have consistently seen on the runway and magazines since.

sacred order 1

Though his run is over with Balenciaga, Ghesquiere has plans to start his very own fashion house under his own name; a long overdue and much deserved step up for the 41 year old Belgian born designer.

Balenciaga-fall-winter-2012-2013-first-menswear-ad-campaign

{Fall/Winter 2012-2013 Menswear Campaign}

So, all we have to do now is wait and see what Alexander Wang has to offer. Since the incarnation of his brand upon dropping out of design school, his line has been heralded by both fashion’s elite and a new generation of fashion lovers looking for something fresher, darker, younger, edgier, cooler. . .

Wang has taken many cues from fashion’s past to successfully reinvent them into modern and sexy new looks for today. One of the best examples of this would most definitely have to be Wang’s ode to athleticism in his Spring/Summer 2010 collection that had him reinventing everything from the gym short to the sweat shirt into sexy, sophisticated, and beautifully dangerous new pieces.

wangtomboy2010

If this is any indication of the type of innovation and ingenuity we might expect from Alexander Wang upon his first presentation for Balenciaga in the coming months, then we can not wait to see what is coming next; next for Wang, and next for Cristobal Balenciaga and the long lineage of raw talent and exquisite artistry that he has established.

Ab imo pectore,

{theEye}

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