Camille Over the Rainbow

Balenciaga SS13: Curtain Call / Seeing DoubleThursday, January 17 2013

For weeks I could barely bring myself to admit it was true, let alone translate my heartbroken sorrow into words. But the reveal of Balenciaga‘s spring-summer campaign has reopened the wound, forcing me to accept that, for the first time in decades, our Fashion Week schedule will not include joining a weird trip©into the sculptural mind of one of fashion’s greatest.

Nicolas Ghesquière - Curtain Call

“That’s the thing in fashion,” Ghesquière said, “if you do not move, then you are dead.” Well, that’s the thing with us fashion-istas, Nicolas, if you do not give us our biannual fix of never-seen-before folds, not-quite-what-they-seem fabrics, and away-from-the-body structures, then we are dead, too. Dead – with no impending hope of resurrection, might I add – given that we still don’t know when – nor where for that matter – we will be seeing you again. What is more, I fear the shoes that your successor has been asked to fill are ten times too big, making it inconceivable that he will be strutting up and down the Parisian fashion scene with the modern ease and irreverential swag you have accustomed us to any time soon.

No offence intended to Mr Wang, who I like very much. I do, I really do. From day 1, I have happily (read ‘would have if funds had permitted’) bought into his graphic urban-cool aesthetic of sexy-tomboy meets early-90s-grunge. Me, and the rest of the world, right ?

Which is precisely the point. What the fashion-literate may compulsively seek to hoard (see Egyptofunk army takes over fashion week), happy in the knowledge that she is in the know, and a proud member of an elitist cult that defines what is cool/sexy in this day and age, the ‘commuter’ (him again) simply won’t get. And that is what it all comes down to. Sales.

Commercial is such a loaded word nowadays, not to mention creativity’s worstenemy. And Ghesquiere – just like Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and many more before him – has chosen to step down rather than betray his creative instincts.Business is a bitch. But let us not judge the dynamics here, and instead acknowledge the threefold lesson to be learned: 1. Ghesquière always showed his true colours, and no amount of chief executive pressure would have it otherwise; 2. no matter how acclaimed a designer is within fashion’s Wintour-centric microcosm, they no longer are the heart and soul of a brand, and can easily find themselves cast out of the house that bears their name (exhibit A: “the creator is for now, the brand is forever“.); and 3. breakups fucking hurt. And I suck at them – Nicolas, I will love you forever.

Balenciaga SS13 CampaignBalenciaga SS13 CampaignBalenciaga SS13 Campaign

(Balenciaga SS13 Campaign – lensed bySteven Meisel)

Still, if we are to pay closer attention to the spring story, as captured above by Steven Meisel, then we might be forced to question the house’s rationale pertaining to the collection in question, and Balenciaga’s cutting-edge leadership over time. Unless Imisunderstandthe point, and to be coherent here is to contradict. But, does it not surprise you that a brand that is celebrated for its ingenious play on sexy, and masterful use of innovational cuts would come up with a campaign that is basically that of another great fashion house, circa 20 years back? Meisel did a beautiful job the first time round (see exhibit B, below). He also did a beautiful job this time round. But am I the onlydisappointedthat Ghesquière’s showstopping ruffles didn’t get a never-seen-before curtain call?

(Atelier Versace FW 1993 Campaign – lensed by [the very same]Steven Meisel)

Only remaining question would be whether this doublon devalues the campaign in the eyes of the beholder (that’s your cue folks!). Also, aside forcollegeessays, isparaphrasing one’s own work really socially acceptable? And will I ever get to wear a bra-suit? Pray, do tell.


  • he is awesome but i think that Alexander will be amazing as well!! of course it would be something different but in my opinion not bad at all ♥

    • I think Wang needs to aim to be as different to Ghesquiere as possible if he is to make a name for himself. After all, that is why Nicolas is so popular: he managed to bring back Cristobal Balenciaga's vision and make it utterly modern and relevant to our generation. I'm excited to see what happens, that's for sure! x

  • I think most people couldn't care less about the campaign… The people who buy Balenciaga RTW are going to buy it anyway, the others the brand doesn't have to care about. But it is kind of shocking for Meisel. If I were at Balenciaga I wouldn't hire him again! Then again, apparently he has a really bad reputation for reusing all his shoots!

    • It's funny because if I hadn't gotten so obsessed with the campaign, then I would never have started hunting around to see what the underlying theme might be. And probably have ogled at it in all my monthly glossies with buckets of unwarranted reverence. Now it just seems like a warmed up dish of old pasta. Not that this takes anything away from the collection which truly is mind-blowing. I just don't get why they did this, and more to the point, wonder if they knew…

    • I suspect they didn't know… I can't imagine the people at the brand wanting to reuse another brand's campaign, especially when they'd know we'd figure it out. I bet they just never checked up on it.

  • Oh my Gosh, i love this collection! Balagencia really did something this time! I Think i'll have to post this on my own blog!!!

    • So you approve of re-using a Versace Campaign from 1993? Just curious if that is what you meant? 🙂 x

    • I suspect she meant she didn't read the post…

  • Anonymous


  • These days everything seems to be an imitation of something else, the cycle of life. But we can surely try to make differences among whats already been done, its all subjective I suppose. I don't think it should be devalued if its done with effort and dedication. x

    • benbenasc

      I agree with Ivanna on this. Even though I am a big fan of Isabel Marant (who isn't) and cherish every budget version of he clothes available, I am a bit disappointed about the lack of originality among brands these days. Take a look at Hunky Dory SS13 and even more Maison Scotch, who basically copies every trend from IM from the last two seasons. Does this express that the IM style is becoming more a style than a design? And where goes the line for "taking inspiration" from other designers?

      What do you think of all of this Camille?

    • I think we all agree that most brands and designers are rehashing what the big names come up with in a desperate hope to become more popular(there are Celine, Ghesquiere and Simons' accents all over the runway collections this spring). To me, a brand that is unable to come up with its own story is not as interesting as one that is innovative and fresh (though this doesn't really impact sales – fashion houses don't need to be different/break new ground to be commercially successful. And let's face it, if brands are copying each other, it's because we want to see more of a certain aesthetic, so they are just trying to appeal to us, the consumer).

      On the other hand, it is kind of a given that high street brands are just pale copies of their high fashion counterparts. We probably wouldn't shop so much at Zara if it didn't provide us with affordable catwalk copies. Hunky Dory, Maison Scotch are not fashion houses. They don't have the same budgets, nor the same vision. They copy, we buy. It is a never-ending circle of life.

      What it all comes down to I guess, is do you want to be a leader or a follower. Which is why this campaign surprised me so much. Ghesquière is celebrated for always telling a new story, season after season, taking us to places we have never visited before. So why use the replica of an old shoot to showcase a collection that is by essence boxfresh. Surely fashion photography has not yet reached a brick wall?

  • I think it's weird that they seem to have used almost the same set-up for the shoot as another brand did some time ago and especially that it has been lensed by the same photographer… for a photographer or any other "creator", creativity and originality should be important right? Or can you simply just "forget" work you've done 20 years ago?

    xo Heike

  • Anonymous

    I think this was a little difficult to follow. You write brilliantly – I really don't mean to offend, but the language was a little ambiguous and pretentious and it clouded your argument.

    • I'm sorry you felt that way, I get carried away by my own brain apparently.

    • Haha, I got carried away with you. Your writing always makes me laugh in an oh-she-just-made-up-another-word-and-how-funny-and-right-on-spot-is-this-one-again kinda way!

      X Marjolein – Never Too

  • i friggen love balenciaga. their overpowering details and glam just goes straight into my soul.

  • Marieke

    WTF, original these ads? Not so much! It's a shame, because the garments Ghesquière designed deserve so much more… Great piece, Camille!
    On another note: do you find the Zara studded loafers run true to size? I'm usually a size 40, sometimes a 41, and am trying to decide on what size to buy.