Nicolas Ghesquière: "Today Women Dress for Themselves. That’s Changed a Lot."

Document Journal recently sat down with Louis Vuittion womenswear creative director Nicolas Ghesquière ahead of his Spring/Summer 2018 show for the Paris-based brand. Ghesquière – who first rose to fame at the helm of Balenciaga from 1997 to 2012 – spoke with Document’s editor-in-chief, Nick Vogelson, to debate the question that is on everyone’s mind given the current political climate: where are we headed?

Here are a few of the most striking excerpts, including Ghesquière’s take on social media, the speed of the fashion system, and the younger designers that are exciting to him (Read the interview in its entirety here) …

On the modern-day silhouette: The most defining feature of the female silhouette in the 21st century so far has been in the way a woman wears sports clothes and mixes them with much more elaborate designer pieces. But this shift in the way women dress was driven by women themselves. Not by designers. 

On his work at Balenciaga: At Balenciaga, it was a transmission; I was carrying on for someone. I probably underestimated how difficult it was. You just go for it at age 25, and the context allowed my determination to work. I am proud of it. I take responsibility for having put Balenciaga back on the map, with integrity. 

On how women dress: I think today women dress for themselves. That’s changed a lot. They dress for men, but they dress for themselves first. This is why I think there is a greater desire for high fashion now, and a willingness to take more risks. It’s a proud moment for fashion.

On social media: I love social media. I love Instagram a lot, and I like Twitter a lot too. Instagram is very playful and it’s a wonderful tool for a designer … I don’t like to filter and love that I can speak to many people very directly. The traditional barriers between designer and public have been broken and we now communicate freely and informally … I love that the digital world and digital tools such as Instagram are inclusive. 

On the speed of fashion: The more you multiply something, the less exceptional it is. It takes time to develop a proper collection, with commercial pieces and interesting pieces, it’s not something you can do in a week. We’ve made so many jumps in the last decade already. I used to do a collection every six months and today we have only two or three months. I was working simultaneously on collections; I had about six weeks in between to finish Cruise.

Can people really absorb that many clothes and that much information in three months? For certain markets maybe, probably a more casual market or a market that is more immediate in its consumption but luxury needs time to develop, and it needs time to produce. I think waiting is something of a luxury now.

As an industry, we have to make people understand that they have to wait for things they see on a screen. The see-now-buy-now model has had questionable results and that, again, is related to digital. 

On younger designers that excite him: To pick young designers of today, I would highly recognize the work of Julien Dossena and will strongly support Natacha Ramsay-Levi with her new career as creative director of Chloé.

[Note: Ms. Ramsay-Levi is Ghesquière's former design assistant at Louis Vuitton, and Dossena was a designer who worked under Ghesquière at Balenciaga; he left the brand in December 2012, shortly after Ghesquière's departure].