Paris Fashion Week: Balmain Fall 2011 – Christophe Decarnin Suffering from Nervous Breakdown?

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With Alexander McQueen’s untimely passing, John Galliano’s alcohol-induced rants and now, rumors that Christophe Decarnin is in the mental hospital, the stereotype of the tortured fashion genius is alive and well.

At the Balmain Fall 2011 presentation during Paris Fashion Week, attendees waited patiently after the finale for designer Christophe Decarnin to appear. He never showed.

While Balmain’s owner, Alain Hivelin told The Telegraph that Decarnin was “tired, after working on the collection. No, he’s NOT retired. He’s just tired. He didn’t go to bed until 5 a.m. He’s not here, he’s resting,” other publications like WWD are suggesting that there’s more to the story that Balmain is hiding. WWD reported that: “The designer was absent under doctor’s orders, after having recently been released from the hospital, where he was said to have been treated for depression.”

Normally I brush off depression rumors, but I can’t help but take these claims seriously after the death of Alexander McQueen whose tweets days before his death revealed dark and disturbing thoughts that were overwhelmingly ignored.

Of course, Hivelin’s assertion that Decarnin is simply tired is plausible as well…though anyone who has attended Fashion Week will tell you that most designers drag themselves out and haphazardly wave after the show’s finale, seemingly on the brink of exhaustion.

Decarnin’s physical absence at the show wasn’t the only cause for concern. His design style was also missing in action from the clothes themselves. Having dressed the biggest pop star of our generation, Michael Jackson, and ushered in the military trend, Balmain has become synonymous with show-stopping glamour and glitz. Fittingly, Kanye West graced the front row in a red-zippered leather jacket that would have made Michael proud.

However, the latest collection, said to be designed completely by Melanie Ward (who replaced Emmanuel Alt as the stylist once she became Editor-in-Chief of French Vogue), is conversely pared down and polished.

Save a few metallic blazers, crystal-encrusted jumpsuits and hand-embroidered minidresses, the collection was alarmingly void of Balmain’s signature extravagance. Silhouettes were looser and more wearable in stark contrast to the skin-tight minidresses from the Fall 2010 collection. Bib-front tuxedo shirts, straight leg trousers and loose-knit tanks indicated a more mature Balmain girl who has embraced “Glam Rock” over the punk influences of seasons past. Could this be a sign of a new Decarnin-less direction at Balmain? I hope not, but only time will tell.

Check out a slideshow below:

What do you think of the collection, and Balmain’s new direction?



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