Remember when everyone thought it Balmain‘s creative director Christophe Decarnin might be mentally ill after he failed to attend his own show during Paris Fashion Week? It turns out that that might not be exactly why he didn’t turn up, but it was a sign that his relationship with the brand was coming to a close. This morning, Balmain announced the “end of its collaboration” with Decarnin, and is expected to announce a successor within the next week.
In a very carefully worded statement (and by carefully worded, we mean we can’t tell whether Decarnin left or was pushed out), Balmain CEO Alain Hivelin formally ended the brand’s relationship with the designer, saying that his “work with the house’s design team contributed to the success that the brand has enjoyed in recent years.” Decarnin had been with the house since 2005.
But even if he was only there for a relatively short time, “contributed” might be underselling what Decarnin did for Balmain just a touch. According to WWD, Balmain had seen sales growth of 50 percent in recent years, even as prices for Decarnin’s clothing skimmed the stratosphere. The brand’s t-shirts could sell for as much as $1,600, and at almost $14,000 its motorcycle jackets could pay a year’s tuition at some decent state universities.
In February, it was reported that Decarnin’s doctor ordered him not to attend Balmain’s Paris runway show, saying that the stress would ruin his already fragile mental state. At the time, the predominant story from Paris Fashion Week was that Dior‘s John Galliano had been fired after drunkenly uttering anti-Semitic slurs in public. But it’s been reported that Decarnin may have left because of corporate pressure, not personal fatigue. Per WWD:
“… tensions between the designer and Balmain’s chairman and chief executive officer Alain Hivelin had reached a breaking point, with the two men said to have widely divergent views on the company’s strategy and future direction.”
Balmain is expected to choose a replacement for Decarnin from within its own ranks, and The New York Times‘ Cathy Horyn wrote this morning that the woman who saved the brand’s most recent runway show, stylist Melanie Ward, is a front runner. Here’s hoping whoever replaces him will have a better relationship with their boss.