Alexander Wang, H&M and the ghost of Nicolas Ghesquiere

The announcement came early Sunday morning evoking excitement everywhere: Alexander Wang for H&M, coming November 2014. And the masses rejoiced. The internet appeared titillated with the news of Swedish mega retailer, Hennes & Mauritz, a brand synonymous with affordable fashion for the masses with its latest collaboration. But just below the surface of the euphoria lies still, the unexamined story of the silent but deadly departure of Nicolas Ghesquière and the appointment of wonderkid Alexander Wang at the prestigious house of Balenciaga. It was indeed a strange selection, questioned by many of fashion’s elite. Wang, known for his ultra-modern designs overlaid with youthful freshness, wasn’t seen as the ideal candidate by outsiders. Would he be able to carry out the vision and produce marketable fashion without losing the Balenciaga touch? Ghesquière exceled at, was a genius at, creating what the public wasn’t even aware it wanted. He moved the brand into mainstream fashion, increased its visibility, and as sales skyrocketed, he brought a sense of stability and practicality to the label. For 15 years, Balenciaga blossomed under Ghesquière as his designs were critically acclaimed. But behind closed doors, a storm brewed. Constant clashes with management partners and battles to maintain his creative identity without comprising the label ultimately took its toll on the designer. And in November 2012, finally at the end of a journey he saw months in the making concluded and Ghesquière “abruptly” ended his union with Balenciaga.  His appointment at the house of Louis Vuitton in late 2013 conveyed the impression that the lengthy chapter of a horrid fairytale had ended. No such luck for the genius designer as a 2014 trial date has been set in the case of Balenciaga Vs Ghesquière. How does all of this tie into the collaboration of Alexander Wang and H&M? One could pounder. My speculation is Wang, quite aware of the enormous shoes he’s  stepped into and the tainted stench of the ugly divorce of his predecessor, may actually be in over his head at Balenciaga.  His acceptance of the contract with H&M is a creative outlet much needed in his world. Make no mistake, on his own, Wang is a dynamic designer. This current partnership will bring his label and name to places unreachable by the prestige of Balenciaga. And It will definitely create more financial freedom, stability and newer, richer ventures for Wang. I believe he needs this collaboration,  in order not to sacrifice his gift, his ability to create and career aspirations. The need to keep his identity separate from Balenciaga is a must if he is going to survive.  My sincerest hope is Wang doesn’t suffer the same fate as Ghesquière, because as any artist can attest to, there is no greater fear than being boxed in, closed up into a tiny space and being controlled by invisible strings of a larger than life puppet master. Being instructed on what, how, when and where to create. For a true artist, the freedom to dream, think, process, execute on our own terms is the very purest form of creation, the very breathe of life to our souls.  Good luck and Godspeed Alexander Wang, you will need it in the future.