With Nicolas Ghesquière turning his resignation letter at Balenciaga after 16 years as creative director, PPR has some mighty shoes to fill. Ghesquière has been monstrously influential over the past 12 years especially, reigning at the upper echelons of the fashion industry with only a few others in the same class (essentially Miuccia, Marc, Alber and Phoebe...). Who might be under consideration? Nobody's saying much, but here are some thoughts on some early frontrunners: Pedro Lourenço - The young Brazilian rising star has something of an early Proenza Schouler buzz around him (except without the whole Barneys buying their first collection part). Like Ghesquière, Lourenço has shown a deft hand with leather, although his first collections have sometimes tiptoed a little too closely to straight pastiche. With time, he could certainly court the hyper-cool, futurism-devoted Balenciaga woman (and I say woman because a Balenciaga "girl" could never afford the collection). I would say that the fact that he hasn't developed too strong of a brand name and a reputation works in his favor. He could continue in the same reinvented DNA in a similar way that Olivier Rouesting took over for Christophe Decarnin at Balmain, or he could totally reinvent the wheel one for Balenciaga more time. I think he'd be a fine choice, if a little green.
Olivier Theyskens - An interesting choice, and somebody who is obviously proven himself capable of satisfying both the technical rigor and retailer-conscious requirements for the job. Through his stints at Rochas and Nina Ricci, we saw his ability to revive couture legacies while still defining his own codes for the houses. His work for Theyskens' Theory is well-praised, and I get the sense he doesn't feel ready to end that relationship. It would certainly be a sad loss for New York fashion. If there's any weakness, it's his questionable record creating a viable accessories identity. I say, while definitely a very good option, he'll stay in New York with his sleek Meatpacking office and handsome new haircut.
Any of the myriad young London designers - None of them seem like a great fit at first glance, most being either too gothic or too fresh on the market. More established London designers like Jonathan Saunders, Giles Deacon and Erdem Moralioglu either have tried their hand at taking over a house (see Giles' short-lived stint at Emanuel Ungaro or Saunders at Pollini) or are already rumored to be in the running elsewhere (Erdem's name is being bandied about for the Schiaparelli revival). Christopher Kane is already firmly in line for the top job at Versace. Thomas Tait, J.W. Anderson and Mary Katrantzou don't seem right design-wise, and the massive responsibility of reporting to the brass at PPR seems to be out of the league for most other young London talents.
Alexander Wang - His is another name that often comes up any time a big design position opens up. Ambitions of modernism and smart experimentation with new textiles are definitely his biggest assets, but he doesn't seem to have a desire spread himself thin - when would he have time to throw his infamous parties? New York is absolutely his city. He's as essential as Jay-Z. Keep him here.
Joseph Altuzarra - He's shown some blockbuster collections in recent seasons, and he's starting to get a feel for the retailers' (and customers') insane demands. However, his fledgling label seems like the perfect place for him at the moment - why stop now? He does have experience in Paris at Givenchy, and a home base there, considering that his father is the head of Goldman Sachs' French operation. Yes, stranger things have happened, like the unexpected but totally amazing hiring of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at Kenzo (they're really knocking it out of the park with that one). But balancing the Balenciaga job with his own label could be a recipe for disaster, so I say keep chugging along and come back in 5 years.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez - The Proenza Schouler boys come closer than other New York label to the design ethos that would make sense at Balenciaga. Ten years in the making, their label has grown to realize that you can't just please cool downtown girls - they just don't have the funds for anything more than a PS1. They've learned the invaluable lesson that your ready-to-wear has to please real women with real money. Between their massively successful track record with accessories, and a full decade at the top of the game, this choice seems strangely...right. Their names were on the short list for the job at Dior, so clearly some top execs think they're ready for the big time. They've got my vote!