Article in brief: The author observes the issue of designers leaving their labels
The news that shook the fashion industry in 2013 took place following the announcement of Nicolas Ghesquiere’s departure from the house of Balenciaga after holding the reins as creative director for 15 years.
The typical scenario we are accustomed to is that the real reason as to why he left the house was never revealed at first. Speculation surrounded this issue for several months but then the designer himself set the record straight in an interview with System magazine. “I was doing everything by myself,” argues Ghesquiere, “no one was helping me on the business side.” In effect, this interview led to the designer being sued by the house he once worked for.
It’s common for designers to leave the brands they’ve worked for after their long tenures. However, in the past two years, the fashion industry has witnessed changes in top fashion labels left and right. But should this issue be so usual in the industry that it becomes conventional? The motives that prompt designers to leave the brands they’ve designed for are many; it can be because they want to focus on empowering their own brands, disagreements with the company, or for other personal reasons.
A classic case is that of Marc Jacobs who transformed Louis Vuitton into an international powerhouse and eventually left his position as creative director to concentrate on his own eponymous label. His last show for Louis Vuitton resembled a memorial since it was a sad yet new affair for him. After building a legacy at Louis Vuitton, Jacobs wants to do the same with Marc Jacobs. I have great expectations for Jacobs since he can now solely focus on his own label and work to make it a household name.
The same cannot be said for Jil Sander. The majority of her label was sold to Prada in 2000 and since then, Sander has left her eponymous label three times. Apparently, Sander had several disagreements with the CEO of Prada, Patrizio Bertelli, and after many attempts to reconcile; there was no final resolution that satisfied either side. Sander claimed it was for personal reasons and left the design team to handle the brand. Despite that, the brand has since progressed and is still recognized as a top fashion house with a clear aesthetic. Sander’s withdrawal did nothing to hurt the image but only attracted more attention to it.
With the examples above, one can notice how confusing and cluttered the situation can get. Although it might seem that without a designer, a house is left with no clear plans. I have to mention that a brand is mostly best off without its founder.
Take Maison Martin Margiela. Known for his anonymity, Margiela mysteriously left his label for unspecified reasons. Looking at the collections now, I can say that the design team is doing splendidly without the original designer.
Stepping away from the frame, I find the issue to be quite beneficial if not normal. What fascinates me most about the industry as a whole is how fashion houses obviously know how to deal with the dilemma of the person that drives the team leaving his/her position.
Classic French houses such as Chanel and Christian Dior captivate me since they are able to produce a total of six collections yearly, which include: two pre-collections, one summer collection and one winter collection. Not to mention haute couture which are produced twice a year.
What I also find very admirable about the late Alexander McQueen was that during his tenure at Givenchy, not only he was able to create all the collections throughout the year, but also work on his own line. Although being very successful, the stress took a toll on him.
It is quite rare to find a designer committing to the house while also finding the time to execute his/her own projects effectively. To be passionate about one’s art is a necessity. After all, without passion, beauty will not be instilled into whatever you create.
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
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