With the surprising news yesterday morning that Balenciaga would be parting ways with Nicholas Ghesquiere, its creative director for 15 years and a man widely considered to be among the most talented (if not the most talented) designers in the entire industry, it seemed only fair that we look back on Ghesquiere’s inimitable legacy at the French house. Ghesquiere’s influence on the entirety of fashion is undeniable (the Balenciaga Did It First Tumblr is a pretty damning roundup of how other major designers have borrowed, both subtly and not-so-subtly, from Ghesquiere’s body of work), but naturally, our loyalties lie with his brilliant handbags.
The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bags, then known as the Balenciaga Le Dix, made their runway debut in 2001 at the urging of models in the brand’s show, who loved Nicolas’ first bag design for the brand. Balenciaga’s corporate leaders weren’t so convinced, but the bags debuted anyway and a star was born. Since then, those first bags (known as the Flat Brass bags because of – you guessed it – their flat studded hardware) have been turned into dozens on top of dozens of shapes, colors, materials and prints and created a huge windfall for a designer whose challenging, forward-thinking ready-to-wear creations tend to be a bit of a hard sell to the average fashion customer. Below, revisit some of Ghesquire’s greatest handbag triumphs from his incredible stint at Balenciaga. If we left out your favorite bag, let us know in the comments.