Balmain designer Christophe Decarnin's absence after the label's fall show in Paris raised eyebrows. Rumors followed that the designer had been hospitalized for depression. Now WWD is reporting (and a press release confirms) that after five years, Balmain is parting ways with Decarnin. According to the New York Times, the house will name a successor next week, and the new creative director is expected to come from within the design team.
In a press release from Balmain announcing Decarnin's departure, ceo Alain Hivelin said “since 1945, the house of Pierre Balmain has been one of the leading French and international luxury brands. Christophe Decarnin’s work with the house’s design team contributed to the success that the brand has enjoyed in recent years.”
Decarnin is credited with building a frenzied hype around the label. His silhouette of strong shoulders on cropped tailored jackets over slashed t-shirts and skinny jeans--a look easily identifiable with Decarnin's stylist during his reign at Balmain, current Vogue Paris EIC Emmanuelle Alt--was something customers wanted, even with the hefty price tags ($1,625 for a ripped t-shirt). As much as customers seemed to lust for Decarnin's Balmain (and editors too, considering the $35,000 gold Balmain dress from fall 2010 that landed seven glossy covers), he had his critics, too--Cathy Horyn once called his clothes "elegant trash."
As for who will replace Decarnin? Horyn suggests Melanie Ward as a front runner. Ward styled the fall collection, and is said to have had a heavier hand in pulling the collection together as Decarnin was rumored to have been absent for months before the show. Ward replaced Alt who could no longer keep the gig after being promoted to the top spot at Vogue Paris.