Nicolas Ghesquière Finally Speaks—and Candidly—About His Exit from Balenciaga

When Nicolas Ghesquière left Balenciaga a few months ago, after 15 years at the house, it came as a shock to nearly everyone. Afterward, the fact that he kept absolutely mum about it came as no shock at all. After all, on the scale of reserved designers, he falls near Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo. But he’s altogether chatty in the new—and inaugural—issue of the French magazine System, which appears to be his first interview since parting ways with Balenciaga. Here are the best bons mots…

“There wasn’t really any direction. I think with Karl [at Chanel] and Miuccia [Prada], 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 all became so dehumanized. I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore.”

“I never had a partner, and I ended up feeling too alone. I had a marvelous studio and design team who were close to me, but it started becoming a bureaucracy and gradually becoming 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.”

“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. 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.”

“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 grateful. Whatever choice I make, the possibilities are open, and that was confirmed with the freeing of my name from Balenciaga. I’m regenerating again, and that’s very exciting because it’s a feeling I haven’t had since I was in my twenties.”

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