Less than a day after PPR announced that Nicolas Ghesquière would leave Balenciaga, there's already talk of where he's headed next.
Suzy Menkes cites "a person in the Paris fashion industry" as saying that LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault has offered Ghesquière his own fashion house. According to Menkes's source, one of Arnault's children (either his daughter, Delphine, or his son Antoine, CEO of the men's brand Berluti) would take over the business side of Ghesquière's brand. Another source called the situation at LVMH "delicate."
In fact, there's some speculation that a delicate situation with PPR management is what caused Ghesquière to leave in the first place. According to WWD, tensions had been rising between the designer and Balenciaga CEO Isabelle Guichot over a "lack of support and funding" and a desire for a more commercial offering. The freedom and resources Hedi Slimane was given when he took over at Balenciaga's sister label Yves Saint Laurent — changing the brand's name and logo, for example — are also said to have contributed to Ghesquière's departure. The Financial Times' Vanessa Friedman points out that after 15 years of service, Ghesquière was only recently allowed to start advertising. Most of his shows have been staged at Balenciaga headquarters "to save money," but Slimane's first show for Saint Laurent was held in Paris's Grand Palais.
Whatever the reason for the split, Guichot says she already has a "short list" of potential candidates to replace Ghesquière — and she wants to hire a new creative director in short order. While she hasn't named names, sources claim Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Kostas Murkudis, and Bouchra Jarrar are among the possibilities. PPR is also said to have its eyes on Londoners Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane, J.W. Anderson, and Thomas Tait.
"My biggest interest is to focus the organization, accompany the team, and develop the brand potential, so it's in my interest to do it as soon as possible," Guichot said.
If Ghesquière had been unhappy about his departure from the brand, he didn't hint at it in a recent profile featured in Style.com/Print. But in the process of talking about embracing Balenciaga's rich past and trying to move it forward, he does betray a sort of introspection about his work. "Because the house has such a history, I have had to look to the future and respect the past for my own moment," he says. Perhaps his moment is now.
Photo: Ghesquière taking a bow at his Fall 2012 show for Balenciaga.