Not since the double whammy of the boho trend - first triggered by Yves Saint Laurent’s spring 01 gypsy catwalk, then reinforced in 2004 by Matthew Williamson - has there been such blanket trend domination across the fashion industry as that seen in 2009 from Christophe Decarnin’s designs for French fashion house Balmain.
In the same way Tom Ford’s gypsy skirts for YSL transcended generations across the high street in spring 02, Balmain’s peaked-shoulder biker jackets, ripped and slashed denims and super-short dresses have been adapted by young fashion chains such as Miss Selfridge and Topshop through to mainstream stores such as Marks & Spencer.
Joining Balmain in 2005, Decarnin attacked his role with gusto, eschewing the classic lines and sophisticated glamour of previous heads of the house, including Oscar de la Renta, instead taking it in an edgier, sexier direction -his structured silhouette first appeared for spring 08.
High price tags have not tempered fervour for the label as Decarnin’s cutaway panels, dark moody tones, brashly ripped and slashed fabrics and super-short hemlines gradually gained pace within the womenswear arena.
But it was this autumn that “Balmainia” really took hold of the fashion mainstream, in the form of the label’s sharp-shouldered jackets. Pagoda-shouldered jackets have been rife not only on the autumn 09 catwalks but across the high street, boosting sales of Balmain’s mainline. Harrods group fashion and beauty director Marigay McKee says the store is seeing a resurgence of French labels, including Balmain, with its dresses retailing from £4,000 to £22,000.
The ubiquity of Decarnin’s designs show no sign of abating next year, as almost every high street spring 10 range features a version of Balmain’s tasselled-shoulder regimental jacket.