In 2007 when Liz Claiborne died after a long battle with abdominal cancer, the fashion world lost one of the most successful business women. One year later when Yves Saint Laurent was overcome with brain cancer, we mourned the loss of one of the most successful couturiers of the century. Finally, last year after the suicide of Lee Alexander McQueen, fans of the young designer were traumatized at the terrible tragedy and the loss of one of the freshest perspectives in the industry.
This year has not been an exception for the loss of talent amongst some of the most noteworthy fashion houses. Of course the fashion community and the media has been mortified and reeling over the John Galliano incident for more than a month, but the most recent fashion fallout is Balmain’s loss of Christophe Decarnin.
At the Balmain Fall/Winter 2011/2012 fashion show in Paris, the models walked quickly down the runway, but Decarnin did not walk…at all. When questioned about the designer’s absence, Balmain CEO Alain Hivelin stated that Decarnin was simply “tired after working on the collection” and was resting. It has now become clear; however, that Decarnin has left the fashion house and has been in absentia for months before the collection was shown.
Decarnin’s work at Balmain without a doubt revamped the label, earning it countless magazine covers, red carpet appearances, and even a street style status with dozens of A-listers. Stars from Michael Jackson, Rihanna, and Beyoncé to Penélope Cruz, Kate Moss, and Diane Kruger have worn Balmain designs inspired by Decarnin. Even Madonna donned Balmain to record her music video “Celebration.”
Current rumours entertain that Decarnin has been hospitalized for depression. Stress from the ever changing industry which mandates impeccable and contemporary collections is also said to have been the demise of McQueen and at least partially to blame for Galliano’s alcohol abuse and anti-Semitic altercations.
Now, we have to hold our breath while we wait for the fate of yet another luxury fashion house to be determined. It is almost certain that Decarnin will be replaced with someone from within, and the top contender is rumoured to be Balmain stylist Melanie Ward who took control of the show, and had a strong influence in most of the latest collection’s design. She replaced Decarnin’s long time stylist and collaborator Emmanuelle Alt earlier this year when Alt replaced Carine Roitfeld as Editor in Chief of French Vogue. This was another noteworthy shift of talent since Roitfeld had been editor for a decade, and Alt’s new appointment means giving up her independent consulting.
Certainly seeing the loss of some of the most outstanding talent in the industry is unfathomable. We are left contemplating, “What in the Hell is going to happen next? Karl Lagerfeld retires (Chanel forbid)!?” The embroidered viscose lining of the seeming fashion fiascos is that with these recent abdications, we will soon see a revival in style and a showcase of talent from new and emerging designers; a new era for fashion.