One contender may be the stylist Melanie Ward, who helped bring together the fall 2011 Balmain collection, stepping in about three weeks before the March show. Ms. Ward is well known in the fashion industry for her long collaboration with Helmut Lang.
Despite, or perhaps because of, a phenomenal run at Balmain, where he made ripped jeans and $5,000 motorcycle jackets seem the coolest thing since, well, Bardot and Brando, Mr. Decarnin hit some kind of personal impasse and lost control of the label. According to a number of people close to the house, Mr. Decarnin, under stress for some time, was absent from Balmain in the weeks before the show, perhaps since the first of the year. He was not at the show. And he has communicated little with the company’s chief executive, according to people close to the house.
Balmain’s success in the Decarnin years was based on a relatively simple formula of impeccably tailored jackets, tough pants, T-shirts and sexy beaded dresses — all for staggering sums — and Mr. Decarnin may have felt stuck in recent months about his direction. Designers are indeed under a lot of pressure, some of it self-imposed, to create relevant collections. Shy and introverted, with a label that had its admirers and critics, Mr. Decarnin may have been more vulnerable than others to that pressure.
Mr. Decarnin joined Balmain in 2005. The house, founded in 1945, has had four or five ready-to-wear designers in the past decade and a half. Mr. Decarnin’s hot look at least gave it something to bank on.
The next big change in Paris is likely to come from Dior, which is looking for a successor to John Galliano, but executives at Dior and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton have indicated they are taking their time. -NYTIMES