September 27, 2008 Paris
Drummer-boy Michael Jackson jackets with the frogging picked out in crystal, souped-up stonewashed jeans, bandage-wrap dresses, sequin-smothered sheaths, teeny tutus, teetering sky-high diamanté-and-stud sandals: Every after-party dream is answered here. It's the kind of shameless pop-bedazzled energy that won Gianni Versace a reputation for tackiness in the high eighties, but also took him to the top. In other words, yes, it's a cliché, but so well done only a true miserablist could fail to smile.
The thing that separates Decarnin's Balmain from rehashed tat is the execution. The guy has Parisian couture skills up his sleeve—a super-skinny sleeve, finessed upwards into a brilliant new shoulder with a bump-peaked swagger on jackets and dresses. (The eighties never looked like that.) He's also got to be credited as the person who's set the wagons rolling on western (his fringed high-heel ankle boots were last season's most-hunted objects of footwear desire). Now he's following on with something in the same direction: A black suede gown with a rawhide train blazed a trail that copyists will be following overnight.