Decarnin out at Balmain!

06 April 2011

Wake up everyone! Christophe Decarnin has LEFT BALMAIN! Oh no! Just when we’d battened down the hatches to read the papers and peruse net-a-porter during a right ol’ slow news week, something like this comes along! An announcement is expected later today to confirm that the media-shy French master of the padded shoulder has departed from the brand.

He joined the brand in 2005, without much fanfare. Subsequent catwalk shows became a word of mouth sensation among fashion editors, many of whom had previously discounted the aging French couture house as too fusty and out of touch. Under Decarnin’s tenure, the couture side of the business was closed, although the prices charged for the ready to wear were nosebleedingly high anyway, so it seemed a fair enough strategy. Despite the fact that T-shirts started at over a thousand pounds and jackets and dresses were in the tens of thousands, stockists from Harvey Nichols in London to Kirna Zabête in New York sold out and set up waiting lists, which triggered the press to coin the phrase “Balmainia”.

His signature style is typified by someone like Emmanuelle Alt, who might very well, since she worked as the brand’s stylist for the shows. Mademoiselle Alt is rarely seen out of the uniform of super tight drainpipe jeans, a jacket cropped at the waist, often with glittering military detail and always with sharp, built-up shoulders; Anna Dello Russo is also a fan.

When Phoebe Philo returned to the international fashion scene at Celine, and the mood began to change to one of figure flattering minimalism and “quiet luxury”  Balmain ceased to be "the show" to watch and was even accused of repeating it’s sequinned Michael Jackson formula too many times. As well as this there were reports that Christophe Decarnin was unwell and seeking treatment in a mental hospital, which prevented him from attending the most recent show at Paris fashion week. According to WWD, though, the problem was not either of these two last factors but more that differences between Balmain’s chairman and chief executive officer Alain Hivelin and the designer had become untenable and rows unsolvable. They also report that rumours and speculation about Decarnin’s mental health were exaggerated and the tensions brewing between the two men have been bubbling over for a long time. No successor has been announced, although it is thought that the company will choose an internal candidate.

Stay tuned to Grazia Daily for more Balmain news as we get it peeps!

- Naomi Attwood


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