NOMINATED FOR: Ghesquière must be near the top of fashion’s most-wanted-employee list. The acclaimed French designer parted ways with Balenciaga after a 15-year tenure and is now said to be exploring the launch of his signature brand, or waiting for the right fashion house to rev up. A small-town boy who rose to the highest summit of international fashion, Ghesquière started out filing and photocopying at Jean Paul Gaultier, eventually getting a shot at Balenciaga designing office uniforms, bridal gowns and widows’ dresses for Japan. He eventually became its creative director, reviving a dusty couture name with vibrant futurism and haute craftsmanship, attracting the attention of Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole, then the dynamic duo behind Gucci Group, which acquired Balenciaga in 2001, giving Ghesquière a 9 percent stake.
While detractors accused Ghesquière of elitism and designing clothes only for the runway, the designer introduced a range of capsule ready-to-wear collections to widen the brand’s reach and introduced a logo-free handbag with dangling zipper pulls that became a hit. His spring 2013 collection, which proved to be his swan song, was widely praised by retailers and editors for its fresh and youthful tailoring, modern frills and square-heeled shoes.