PARIS: Fashion’s enfant terrible Demna Gvasalia quit his uber hip streetwear brand Vetements Monday in a move which shocked fashion.
The Georgian designer took Paris fashion by storm in 2014 with his customised US$800 hoodies and ironic “poverty chic” aesthetic, taking the clothes of the poor and selling them to the rich.
His brother Guram, with whom he co-founded Vetements, confirmed his departure.
The 38-year-old made headlines from the start by cheekily appropriating corporate logos, including McDonald’s and DHL, and staging his shows in gay sex clubs and downmarket Chinese restaurants.
He achieved further notoriety with his US$2,000 “Ikea” bag, a luxury leather version of the 99 cents originals for Balenciaga after he was handed the keys to the venerable Paris fashion house in 2015.
“What Demna has accomplished over the past few years represents a key chapter in the story of Vetements,” Guram Gvasalia told Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).
I was bored of fashion
Gvasalia’s unorthodox approach,staging his last show at a branch of McDonald’s on the Champs Elysees, full of cheeky jokes at the madness of consumerism has made him one of the most influential creators in record time.
He once told AFP that he got his inspiration from riding the metro through one of the poorest and most ethnically diverse parts of Paris.
He has since quit the French capital for the wealthy and far from edgy Swiss city of Zurich.
In a parting statement Monday to WWD, he said that he had done what he had set out to do.
“I started Vetements because I was bored of fashion, and against all odds fashion did change once and forever since Vetements appeared.
“So I feel that I have accomplished my mission of a conceptualist and design innovator. Vetements has matured into a company that can evolve its creative heritage into a new chapter on its own,” he added.
The news of his departure comes only days after fashion’s other big rising star, Virgil Abloh, said he was stepping back from his manic schedule designing for Louis Vuitton and his own Off-White label because of “health considerations”.
It is unclear whether the demands of the increasingly frenetic fashion schedule contributed to Gvasalia’s decision, although he is expected to present Balenciaga’s spring 2020 show in Paris later this month.
A child refugee, the designer fled his then war-torn homeland with his mother and grandmother after fighting broke out with Abkhaz separatists in 1989.
He told AFP that they abandoned their car, and in desperation sold an AK47 they had to protect themselves so they could put Gvasalia’s elderly grandmother on a horse.
The family eventually arrived in Germany via Ukraine and Russia, where he originally studied finance before attending the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts and then founding Vetements.
From the start, it played on a post-Soviet grunge aesthetic.