Christophe Decarnin is no longer the head designer at Balmain, the label announced in a press release early this morning. Decarnin was absent from the label's fall 2011 show and may not have been around at all as early as the beginning of this year, Cathy Horyn reports in the Times. Sources also say he was barely in communication with the label's CEO.
Horyn thinks that Decarnin — who was rumored to be in a mental hospital at the time of the Balmain show — "hit some kind of personal impasse and lost control of the label."
Balmain’s success in the Decarnin years was based on a relatively simple formula of impeccably tailored jackets, tough pants, T-shirts and sexy beaded dresses — all for staggering sums — and Mr. Decarnin may have felt stuck in recent months about his direction. Designers are indeed under a lot of pressure, some of it self-imposed, to create relevant collections. Shy and introverted, with a label that had its admirers and critics, Mr. Decarnin may have been more vulnerable than others to that pressure.
Decarnin's replacement is likely to be someone from within the house, possibly stylist and Helmut Lang alum Melanie Ward, who came on three weeks before the fall 2011 show. Ward replaced Emmanuelle Alt, who had to give up her consulting and styling gig to take over French Vogue.
Decarnin Leaves Balmain; Successor in Wings [On the Runway/NYT]