PARIS, France — After months of speculation, Louis Vuitton has appointed Nicolas Ghesquière, former creative director of Balenciaga, as its new artistic director of women’s collections, effective immediately. Ghesquière will show his first collection for the LVMH-owned luxury brand next March.
Ghesquière spent a total of 15 years at Balenciaga, a once ailing womenswear house which he managed to transform into one of the most forward-thinking luxury brands in the world (and the most exclusive and sought-after ticket at Paris Fashion Week) with his complex vision, sculptural tailoring and use of ultra-modern fabrics. The designer left Balenciaga one year ago, after a dispute with management over the direction of the house, and has remained largely under the radar until today's announcement.
In a prepared statement, Louis Vuitton said Ghesquière would bring "a modern creative vision to the House’s women’s collections, building on the values of refinement, savoir faire and extreme quality."
“Louis Vuitton has always incarnated for me the symbol of ultimate luxury, innovation and exploration. I am very honored of the mission that I am entrusted with, and proud to join the history of this great Maison. We share common values and a vision. I can’t wait to join the team. Together we will build the future of the brand while preserving its precious heritage,” said Ghesquière.
Jacobs helped to transform Louis Vuitton from a staid luggage label into one of the most valuable fashion brands in the world and the jewel in LVMH’s crown. But in recent years, as luxury consumers in important emerging markets like China matured much faster than expected and began to tire of Louis Vuitton’s now ubiquitous and much-copied brand signifiers, the house began to lose some of its high fashion cachet.
In response to this growing “logo fatigue,” in recent seasons Louis Vuitton has shifted away from its more obvious brand signifiers — its monogram and two-tone checkerboard Damier prints — and refocused its product and communications strategies on craftsmanship and other more discreet branding devices.
In 2012, Louis Vuitton’s sales growth slowed to single digits on the back of sluggish demand in Asia and Europe.
The appointment of Ghesquière is sure to help re-energise and re-elevate Louis Vuitton's fashion offering and marks the latest in a string of senior-level changes at the brand. Last December, the brand appointed LVMH veteran Michael Burke as chief executive, who subsequently brought in Delphine Arnault, daughter of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault and formerly deputy general manager of Dior, to oversee all product-related activities.
The challenge for Ghesquière will be adapting his approach to the scale of Louis Vuitton, a business that dwarfs Balenciaga in terms of sales.