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La Parisienne

Nicolas Ghesquière
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Nicolas Ghesquière is the former creative director of Balenciaga. Since he took on the role in 1997, the designer has added a contemporary, hard-edged femininity to the brand while maintaining its trademark structured silhouettes and clean lines.

• Ghesquière was born in Comines, Province in 1971.

• At the age of 15, he interned at Agnès B in Paris during his school summer holidays. "I watched, I photocopied, I made the coffee," he told the New York Times.

• After leaving school, Ghesquière achieved his childhood dream: scoring an internship with Jean Paul Gaultier.

• He joined Balenciaga in 1995 as a licensed product designer. "I was hired to do the licensed collection," he told WWD in 2005. "It was not the most exciting job but for me it was the most beautiful name in fashion. I didn't care at that time. I was thinking, 'It's OK. I will go and I will see what the potential is and see what is going on.' So it was not the most glamorous way to approach the brand. But it was interesting to work on this license and to see what was left from Balenciaga." In 1997 he was appointed as the label's new creative director, replacing Josephus Thimister.

• His creations went down as well with Balenciaga's loyal following as they did with the fashion press. His collections were in such high demand that the label's flagship store in Paris was unable to meet the demands of the crowds that gathered there daily.

• Ghesquière abhors personal fame and prefers his work to have the attention. His London store, which opened in 2008, was conceived and designed by the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and resembles an art installation.

• The designer says he is his own harshest critic. "We've developed the brand," he told Interview magazine in January 2010. "I probably feel more solid because the brand is solid and I feel stronger than my years. But I put so much pressure on myself, which makes me very insecure. With my designs and my ideas, I want to please myself first. I'm always very stressed about making a new proposition every season. But in a way, it's a kind of addiction. In another way, it's a crazy pressure. I try to stay quiet about the whole situation, because fashion itself can be crazy, and everyone wants a part of you."

• His hobbies extend beyond fashion. "I love art. I love music. It's more about the lifestyle you yourself have-that's the most inspiring thing," he has said. "The way you share relationships with the people around you."

• On October 28 2010, Ghesquière was crowned Fashion Group International's Superstar. "Nicolas Ghesquière defines the word 'superstar,'" FGI president Margaret Hayes told WWD. "Said to be one of the most intriguing and original designers of his generation, he has reinvented the House of Balenciaga and endowed its legacy with a cool, modern edge."

• On November 5, 2012 it was announced Ghesquiére was to depart as creative director of Balenciaga after 15 years in the role. The designer was praised by François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of PPR, who said: "With an incomparable creative talent, Nicolas has brought to Balenciaga an artistic contribution essential to the unique influence of the house."

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