Paris—Award-winning designer Alexander Wang was officially appointed today as the creative director of the Balenciaga fashion brand. The 28-year-old Wang replaces Nicolas Ghesquière who left his position as creative director last month after 15 years.
In his new post, Wang will be responsible for designing the brand’s women’s, men’s and accessories collection as well as for Balenciaga’s image. Wang will continue to run his own eponymous brand which he established in 2007.
Isabelle Guichot, president/ceo at Balenciaga, said “Alexander Wang, whose proven talent, modernity and individual and cosmopolitan vision of design will naturally embrace and enrich the unique heritage of this fashion house which will soon be one hundred years old.”
Indeed, Wang, who is known for his slouchy, nonchalant edgy elegance, brings a commercial appeal that Ghesquière may have lacked. Wang’s collections have been picked up by more than 30 top fashion retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Barneys and Selfridges, amounting to a sales volume of a reported $25 million by the time he was 25.
House Looks to Expand in China
The fact that Wang speaks Mandarin is also a major plus since the Chinese market is highly coveted by designer brands such as Balanciaga as well as others owned by PPR Group.
“I am deeply honored to embark on this new role for a brand and house that I have such great admiration and respect for,” said Wang.
Founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1919 and established in Paris in 1936, Balenciaga was a leader in trends from 1930 to 1968. PPR Group, which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, bought Balenciaga in 2001 had has been trying to revive the brand. Besides ready-to-wear, one of the flagship collections are the house’s handbags.
Since Guichot came aboard in 2007, Balenciaga has developed its own directly-operated stores, now numbering 62. This year, the brand increased its presence in Asia, opening 11 stores in mainland China. In fact, parallel expansion plans are underway in mature markets as well as emerging nations. The brand expanded its Internet capabilities beyond France, United States and United Kingdom to some 24 countries.
“Alexander Wang will use his creativity and his own research to reinterpret and immortalize the distinctive, modern and extremely innovative style imposed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, ” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman/ceo of PPR.
Wang’s appointment is the latest in a series of changes among top designer brands. Recently, Belgian designer Raf Simons has moved from Jil Sander to Christian Dior. And Hedi Slimane, formerly of Dior Homme, moved to Yves Saint Laurent.