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When the great Cristobal Balenciaga closed the doors of his couture house in 1968, he lamented, “There is no one left worth dressing”. For decades, the house lay dormant; until 26-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Ghesquière was appointed creative director of Balenciaga in 1997 after the departure of Josephus Thimister. Nicolas had been quietly freelancing for Balenciaga’s licenses since 1995. Three years later, he won the Vogue/VH1 Avant-Garde Designer of the Year Award. Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune called him “the most intriguing and original designer of his generation”. Though relatively unknown when he was appointed to Balenciaga, Nicolas already had a life in fashion. He won work placements at agnès b. and Corinne Cobson while still at school in Loudon, central France. At 19, he became an assistant designer to Gaultier and then Mugler, before a brief tenure as head designer at Trussardi. But his great achievement was his revival of Balenciaga. His green silk crop combat pants for spring/summer 2002 were the most copied garment of the season and Neoprene mini skirts and dresses from spring/summer 2003 kept Balenciaga on the edge, creatively and commercially. In 2005 Nicolas was elected as one of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’ by Time Magazine, and awarded the prestigious Insigne de Chavalier des Arts et des Lettres for his continued creativity in 2008. After 15 years at the helm, the news reached the papers in November 2012 that Nicolas had departed the house of Balenciaga but would succeed Marc Jacobs as artistic director of Louis Vuitton.


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