Didn't he just get there?
It's never a good sign when your supposedly confidential contract renewal negotiations are breathlessly reported upon for weeks, and while there has been no official announcement, WWD is reporting that Alexander Wang (pictured at right) is already leaving his post as creative director at Balenciaga after barely three years at the fabled house. Wang was hired to replace Nicolas Ghesquiere who left abruptly in 2012 and now appears to be comfortably ensconced at Louis Vuitton.
While Wang's tenure at the house has been favorably but not rapturously received by critics and the press, business is said to have been good under the designer whose notoriety kept attention on the label after Ghesquiere's unceremonious exit. He has revamped the company's retail design templates, kept its important handbag and accessory business humming with new styles and even tweaked the logo. Unlike his predecessor, however, Wang's design approach at Balenciaga has been much more reverent of the style of the brand's namesake, offering a sleeker, more elegant fashion image often focused on a black and while color schemes, which has dismayed fashion watchers who were expecting more adventuresome looks. Ghesquiere revived the nearly dormant label by veering between collections that only occasionally paid tribute to the archives and ones that highlighted streetwear looks or innovative materials that looked to the future. His signature item, the motorcycle bag, is decidedly not a reference to the sculptural couture designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and yet it remains an important component of the accessory collection well over a decade after its introduction.
It is also thought that Wang's expected departure signals the designer's interest in focusing more on his own New York based label which continues to grow. The rumored move suggests that the paradigm of a star designer heading two big brands based on two different continents may be over as creative directors find the constant commuting exhausting and the corporately owned couture houses increasingly want designers who will focus all their creativity on one label. Designers like Christophe Lemaire and Marc Jacobs have both indicated a desire to consolidate their attention on their own labels as part of the reason for their leaving Hermès and Vuitton respectively. For its part, WWD is reporting that executives from Balenciaga and Kering, its parent company, are looking for a lesser known emerging designer who can be promoted to replace Wang and hopefully create the kind of excitement and press attention that Gucci designer Alessandro Michele has enjoyed since replacing Frida Giannini at the Kering-owned Gucci earlier this year —although the jury is still out on how customers will react to Gucci's dramatically changed fashion offerings. Wang's final collection for Balenciaga is said to be for Spring 2016 to be shown this fall in Paris. If there is to be a replacement announced, look for it to happen after Paris Fashion Week — if the company can keep it under wraps until then.