March 02, 2011 Paris
There has been much speculation about the extent of Ward's involvement (she is best known for her work with the nineties fashion god Helmut Lang). Her influence perhaps accounted for the loosened-up silhouettes of the house's signature minidresses (this season painstakingly hand-embroidered with mosaics of mirrors and ribbons) as well as for the borrowed-from-the-boys proportions of bib-front tuxedo shirts. Decarnin kick-started the current craze for nineties-era boot-cut flares a year ago. The new pant is deeply cuffed and cropped below the knee and above a lace-up boot; what's more, it's not second-skin tight. When this collection hits the stores, some of the first pieces to go will be the metallic leather peaked-lapel blazers, one ice blue, the other yellow gold. They delivered the trademark house sizzle, but in a fresh, powerful way. And without all the embroidered glitz, they'll ring up quite a savings at the register. As questions swirl, it's a new day at Balmain.