So Ghesquière was the perfect choice to replace Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, a maison where logos made billions for LVMH boss Bernard Arnault before they morphed into rap song lyrics and sitcom jokes. In a prepared statement, Louis Vuitton said Ghesquière would bring “a modern creative vision to the House’s women’s collections, building on the values of refinement, savoir faire and extreme quality.” In other words Ghesquière’s task is to polish Vuitton’s faded glow with some of the demanding brilliance he created during 15 years at Balenciaga, a brand that’s known for an austere and majestic Spanish aesthetic.
“Louis Vuitton has always incarnated for me the symbol of ultimate luxury, innovation and exploration,” he said, hopefully with at least part of his tongue in the ironic segment of his cheek. “I am very honored of the mission that I am entrusted with, and proud to join the history of this great Maison. We share common values and a vision. I can’t wait to join the team. Together we will build the future of the brand while preserving its precious heritage.”
Ghesquière has a mountain to climb, especially in China, where Vuitton realized too late that the brand had become uncool due to over-expansion and counterfeiting. Jacobs helped to transform Louis Vuitton from a trunk maker that was only on the radar of the very rich into a billion dollar business selling purses and key rings to the salaried multitude, but the lightening speed with which China’s luxury consumers have matured left LV stranded in a mass-market mess.
Arnault will be well aware of Ghesquière’s reputation for taking an uncompromising stance on issues of quality, innovation and heritage and with Michael Burke and Delphine Arnault, the new top executives at LV already shaking up the brand’s Pont Neuf headquarters, the new designer’s arrival represents a very bold and definitive line drawn under the Marc Jacobs/Yves Carcelles era.
Balenciaga has always been known for sailing away from the mainstream and Ghesquière was most comfortable at the brand (before his bitter split with owner PPR, now Kering) when he could be daring and outré. His task now is to inject that daring spirit into Louis Vuitton in such a way that it becomes a fashion thoroughbred again, while continuing to be a cash cow. Not an easy task and for a man who once designer funeral clothes for the Japanese market Ghesquière must know that too many slips at Vuitton could spell the death of his career.
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这是一位因梦想之纯粹而称著的设计师，尤其是当过度的商业化导致奢侈品上遍布品牌商标之时，他对铜臭味的深恶痛绝更加难能可贵。在路易威登，Nicolas Ghesquière 正是代替 Marc Jacobs 的最佳人选。遍布产品表面的 LV 商标曾让路威酩轩的老板 Bernard Arnault 赚得盆满钵满，却也因此沾上不少麻烦，令该品牌一度沦为流行歌词里的笑柄。路易威登的官方声明中说，Ghesquière 将为路易威登的女士系列带来“基于精致优雅、超凡的品味以及对品质的绝对追求的现代创意”。换言之，他要带来的，是他在巴黎世家的十五年曾为该品牌作出的卓越贡献——那简洁而肃穆的西班牙时尚美学。
诚然，Ghesquière 的前途并不坦荡。尤其在中国，路易威登过了很久才意识到，由于无节制的扩张和造假，该品牌已经被视为庸俗肤浅的代名词了。Jacobs 固然神通广大，使得路易威登从一个人们略有耳闻的品牌摇身变成了时尚界的泰山北斗，可是他不曾料到，中国消费者的品味成熟得如此之快，以至于路易威登被迅速地归入了大众化品牌的行列。当然，Arnault 很清楚 Ghesquière 在质量、创新和传统等问题上毫不妥协的立场；Ghesquière 的加入，与新官上任三把火的 Michael Burke 和 Delphine Arnault，将会一同开启一个路易威登的新时代，一个与 Marc Jacobs 和 Yves Carcelles 主政之时迥异的时代。毕竟，巴黎世家一直是带有少许非主流色彩的时尚品牌，狂放不羁的 Ghesquière 也曾在此度过了他最为如鱼得水、春风得意的岁月（无奈他后来与品牌的拥有者 PPR，如今的 Kering 闹翻了）。而如今，他面临的挑战则在于，如何将这种敢做敢当的精神带入路易威登，使之重新成为纯粹的时尚先锋的同时，丝毫不减弱其吸金的能力。这位曾经为日本市场设计寿衣的才子当然知道，在路易威登当家就是处在风口浪尖，若是太过粗心大意，就会鸣响其事业的丧钟。