As Alexander Wang departs Balenciaga, we examine a full list of the contenders for his spot at the storied Paris brand.
Next week will see the last collection of Alexander Wang's short-lived Balenciaga run. While we loved the structural minimalist style that he brought to the fashion house, we're excited to see what some more time on his hands does to his already impossibly cool namesake line. Another thing we're excited about? The reveal of who will be Wang's successor. The rumors have been flying since his departure was announced, and we're laying out what an exhaustive list of the contenders, as rumored, whispered, and wildly speculated.
The Independent's Alexander Fury tweeted the rumor that Julien Dossena could take over as soon as news broke that Wang was leaving. Dossena earned a collective seal of approval in the industry for reviving Paco Rabanne. He could bring his balance of respect for the brand's legacy and forward-thinking aesthetic, and he does already have experience working for the house in the past--however, under Nicolas Ghesquière, which could put him on Kering's "no way" list.
Magazines like Elle confidently declared Kane as Ghesquière's successor in 2012, which obviously turned out to be false, but that's not stopping him from being one of the strongest contenders in the rumor mill again. He's already under the Kering umbrella with his own line, his collections are consistently pretty swoon-worthy, and he's yet to take the reins at an established house, save for his Versus stint.
Like Kane, Altuzarra is also already under Kering, which makes him an easy transition. Also like Kane, he's already more than proven himself with his own line, which gets that classic-meets-contemporary look right every season. Altuzarra is tight with Wang, which could make his taking over for him even more interesting.
A Spaniard like Cristobal, Font could be an elegant match for Balenciaga with his penchant for drama. He took Spanish label Delpozo worldwide and has made it a cult favorite with his architectural silhouettes and fairytale elegance, a mix that would certainly feel at home at Balenciaga.
Simon Porte Jacquemus
His name popped up on the contender list right after Wang's departure was announced, as pointed out by Fashionista. Jacquemus is young, exciting and totally unafraid to do his own thing and go against the grain. The Rei Kawakubo protégé creates beautifully tailored clothes with whimsical, sometimes surrealist elements, which could be an intriguing refresh for Balenciaga.
Alessandro Michele's appointment as Creative Director for Gucci might be the start of a trend for Kering, one in which the company chooses more anonymous designers that will keep their noses to the grindstone. On that note, the collective behind Vetements could be the perfect choice, namely its leader Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia has designed for Louis Vuitton in the past, and now demonstrates an elevated take on polished French cool that could easily translate at Balenciaga.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez
Although the duo behind Proenza Schouler would make an inspired and capable choice for Balenciaga, their own brand is soaring and they've recently voiced reservations about the doability of designing for two houses. If they could make the transcontinental thing work, Jack and Lazaro's classic/downtown mix and talent for accessories would find a welcome home.
Not that Balenciaga needs a makeover, but Henry did take Carven from old news to cool-girl favorite, and he did it by maintaining a sense of ladylike style with a twist of unexpected details like bold cutouts. He did just settle in at Nina Ricci, but it wouldn't be too big of a shock to hear he'd want to jump ship for an opportunity like Balenciaga.
Another option if Kering wants to go the more anonymous, quiet route, Takahashi comes with a hard-working history of churning out stunning collections with avant garde elements. It would be pretty surprising to see some of his dream-world runway antics for Balenciaga, though the artfulness of his choices make it perceivable, and it would be cool to see a major European fashion house think outside the box a bit by bringing in a Japanese designer.
If Kering is okay with going the very non-anonymous way, Riccardo Tisci is a force to be reckoned with. He proved how fast he could rise when, as a relative newcomer to fashion, he took over at Givenchy and injected the iconic label with edge. He's demonstrated a talent for designing It-accessories and for creating both red carpet pieces and off-duty staples, and as his public fashion show just reminded us, he knows how to build serious buzz.
How refreshing would it be to see a heavy hitter like Balenciaga choose a young, female designer as its captain? Simone Rocha could be just the right balance of lesser known yet still substantiated in praise for her namesake line, which exudes the contrast of OTT femininity and modern minimalism that could fit right in at Balenciaga. Plus, the Irish designer and daughter of British designer John Rocha has already started garnering a celebrity fanbase.
Text Courtney Iseman