Some Thoughts From: Robin Givhan on Balmain

In a less conventional Some Thoughts From post today, here is a throwback quote from the former fashion editor for the Washington Post and current fashion critic for The Daily Beast, Robin Givhan. You probably know by now that for the past five years, Christophe Decarnin has served as a director at French design house Balmain. He helped revive the house, which was not really on anyone's radar in 2005, and the result: Balmania. Ripped t-shirts with $1k price tags that sold out, painted-on motocycle pants and ultra-short mini dresses. When Decarnin left the house in 2011, with rumors swirling that he was in a mental institution, Givhan wasted no time in sharing her thoughts that Balmain and the industry as a whole is better off without Decarnin ... 

“Certainly, the fashion industry – as a purveyor of beauty ideals, fine craftsmanship, and creativity – is better off without the aesthetic that [Decarnin] and Balmain popularized…The cost of his fully bedazzled mini-dresses could reach well into tens of thousands of dollars, easily making a couture client hyperventilate. His tailored jackets, though beautifully cut, were also a king’s ransom at $10,000. In fairness, some of the prices could be explained by the skill put into the cutting and the elaborate beadwork – one Prince-inspired collection, for example, featured frock coats lacquered in gold sequins.

But Decarnin’s tattered jeans and t-shirts were equally as expensive – think $1,000 for an artfully torn tank top. And no, he did not come to clients’ homes himself with a pair of shears to do the snipping to their personal specifications. There is no justification for that sort of pricing other than it exploited one of the worst marketing tactics in the fashion industry. Balmain’s jeans and t-shirts reeked of the most grotesque prestige pricing.”

Givhan undeniably makes valid arguments, but in declaring that the market is better off without Balmain as we know?