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September 30, 2008

Balmain Spring/Summer 2009

Balmain Spring/Summer 2009Balmain by Spike

I've lost sleep over "spike's" comments at Cathy Horyn's blog. I love the new Balmain, especially the jackets and the trousers but "spike" brought up VERY VALID points.

"I have to admit, the appeal of Balmain eludes me….well, not entirely. It’s fun, loud and sexy, and the clothes seem like the kind of thing you’re bound to feel fabulous in once you’ve gotten over the fact that your crotch could end up on display. But to me that doesn’t explain the cult-like appeal of the label.

Quite honestly, I think it’s so popular for two reasons. The first is that Carine Roitfeld and her team love it and can be seen wearing it everywhere. She’s the queen of cool, sexy chic, hence Balmain must be cool, sexy and chic too. The second reason is that these clothes are being shown in Paris, which is regarded as the mecca of serious fashion. Just by being a French house Balmain has an advantage.

But when Roberto Cavalli or Donatella Versace do, or rather have done, brightly colored, barely covered clothes smothered in beading, most people would call it trashy, tacky, slutty, vulgar…the list of pejoratives is endless. So why is it that Decarnin isn’t ripped apart for doing much of what those designers have already done and been criticized for? It’s not as if Cavalli’s showgirl dresses were beaded in a sweatshop while Balmain’s are beaded at Lesage, quite the contrary I always thought that Cavalli’s strength was the craftsmanship involved in his embrace of all things flashy. So the idea that Balmain’s quality is better is kind of moot. And it’s not as if Donatella takes fashion so seriously that she doesn’t know her tastes, and the image of the house itself, are loud and of questionable taste, so I’m not sure the irony argument would work well either.

I just can’t help but think that Balmain has the unfair advantage of being a novelty while Versace, Cavalli, the D&G boys et al are expected to do something tasteful, which would explain why all of them have been trying to move beyond their signature brands of all out sex and glamour.

That said, most of the jackets had a lot of appeal and could look insanely cool paired with some understated and sharp tailoring. But it’s one of those collections where I’m left wondering “what’s so amazing about this?”

Well, what do you think?

* photo credit:

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