Gvasalia Succeeds Wang as Balenciaga's Artistic Director

Updated on
  • Gvasalia to show first collection next autumn/winter show
  • New designer to continue current role at Vetements brand

Balenciaga has a new artistic director and he’s not a household name. Yet.

Demna Gvasalia, a little-known German national of Georgian origin, will succeed Alexander Wang as the fashion house’s creative head with immediate effect, owner Kering SA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old will show his first collection for the brand at the women’s ready-to-wear 2016-2017 autumn/winter show in Paris, Kering said. The designer will keep his current responsibilities for the Vetements label, which he launched last year.

Gvasalia is “a powerful emerging force in today’s creative world,” said Kering Chief Executive officer Francois-Henri Pinault, describing him as “humble and rigorous in his creative work.”

Gvasalia is the second relatively low profile designer appointment Kering has made this year. The Paris-based company in January promoted Alessandro Michele to the top job at Gucci, where he has helped restore a sense of excitement as it undergoes an overhaul.

Wang left Balenciaga on Friday to focus on his own label after less than three years in the role.

Gvasalia launched his first collection at Tokyo Fashion Week in 2007 and previously worked as senior designer of women’s ready-to-wear at competitor Louis Vuitton. He presented Vetements’s first women’s collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2014 and has won plaudits for reworking wardrobe staples such as jeans and sweats.

Balenciaga, which makes 2,200-euro ($2,470) biker jackets and 545-euro sandals, generated sales of 300 million euros in 2014, or less than 3 percent of Kering’s total revenue, analysts at Citigroup Inc. estimate. Kering doesn’t break out Balenciaga’s results, grouping it with other luxury brands including Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

The label was founded by Cristobal Balenciaga in 1919, established in Paris in 1936 and acquired by Kering in 2001.

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