March 04, 2009 Paris
Decarnin certainly proved he's the leader of the disco fever he has single-handedly triggered this season. He had the shortest, tightest body dresses witnessed anywhere: smothered in Swarovski crystal, flouncing up at the shoulder, tightly bound in satin drape or quilted, chain-wrapped black leather. The cult peaked-shoulder Balmain jacket was reiterated in force: same signature shape, now manifested as a leather biker as well as a tuxedo jacket, and often paired with new drapey harem pants or skinny jean-cut black trousers. Every look was thrust into deep-cuffed suede boots with a stack of silver buckles running up the side.
All that probably threw on enough fuel to keep Balmain on fire for the next season, not just with trophy-hunting girls who can afford the red-hot prices but also with the knock-off merchants who will be laughing all the way to bank while making an easy killing with stick-on glitter and the minimum yardage of Lycra and fake leather. In that way, Decarnin deserves acknowledgement for keeping the wheels of fast fashion turning. Exactly how far it's going to go is open to question, though. By halfway through the show, Decarnin's looks—the jacket, pant, and drapey T-shirt; the minuscule dress; and the half-train gown—were already into heavy rotation. If he's really going to win a place as the Versace of tomorrow, he'll have to come up with more than that next season.