i-D Paris Editor Sarah Hay interviews Nicolas Ghesquière for The Home is Where the Heart is Issue, Spring 2010.
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It’s 4pm and silent at the discreet entrance of the multi-floored Balenciaga headquarters in Paris. Upstairs however we sit with Nicolas Ghesquiére sipping hot tea and swapping spooky tales about demonic possessions, witch hunts and wives poisoning errant husbands by slipping arsenic into their lunch. Our subject is his hometown of Loudun, a beautiful, old, provincial town outside Paris whose 17th century public exorcisms and trials at the nunnery were the foundation for Aldous Huxley’s book The Devils of Loudun, which inspired Ken Russell’s film, The Devils. “A lot of witches and strange stories,” giggles Ghesquière. “Another famous story is about Marie Besnard who poisoned her family, we never found out why. Later in life she was freed and as a child I remember my mother pointing at a woman in the bakery whispering, ‘that is Marie Besnard!’ so I grew up in a city with all these strange tales of dark women.” Nicolas is fun, full of light energy and talkative. He’s small, handsome and when his blue eyes widen, happily receiving the punchline of a dramatic story, it’s clear that he appreciates eccentric things. While our surroundings: the austere, perfect, classic and classy high ceiling-ed Parisian room (complete with pristine white flowers and selection of bright macaroons) is the stuff that fashion dreams are made of, it’s actually the tea, his welcoming mood and easy grin that relaxes us into his world of pure imagination, where at the incredibly young age of 38, Nicholas has already accomplished thirteen years as Creative Director at the house of Balenciaga. We are sat in the same room that artist Roe Ethridge photographed actress Laurent of Inglorious Basterds in the presence of Ghesquière who has long been a fan of both his photography and her body of work. “Mélanie is super alive, she’s someone with a lot of life, she gave her energy,” he says, “the mix between the energy of herself, her beauty and his degree of precision in search of colour and composition was a great contrast and a great situation for me.” Laurent is the latest in a short but beguiling and individual list of women’s names to be associated with Ghesquière during his voyage with Balenciaga. Isabelle Huppert, Joanna Preiss, Jennifer Connelly, Irina Lazareanu, Françoise Hardy and Charlotte Gainsbourg being some of his high profile fans who have taken his hand and flown on a futuristic journey of strange sometimes alien shapes, textures and colours.
Read the full interview in The Home is where the Heart is.
Text: Sarah Hay