Robin Givhan (Credit: Patrick McMullan)

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s news that creative director Christophe Decarnin would be leaving his post at Balmain, Robin Givhan files a postmortem which amounts to “good riddance,” saying that the fashion industry is “better off” without the aesthetic and corresponding prices he and the house popularized.

Decarnin’s tattered jeans and T-shirts [were 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. […] Balmain threw the fashion industry’s already tenuous balance of cost and value so far off kilter that the clothes became pointless. The company might as well have been selling dirty handkerchiefs embroidered with the Balmain name for $5,000. Quality and craftsmanship were removed from the equation—it was all about a price point and a label.

I have to agree insofar as Balmain’s downtown punk rock aesthetic is a bit nonsensical when you factor in prices. Sure it’s cool to have a military coat covered in safety pins that reminds you of something Sid Vicious might wear, but for $10K that military coat feels like an alarmingly cynical misappropriation of a look once synonymous with despising exactly that sort of excess.

Although criticizing Decarnin so soon after his departure gives me pause in light of recent circumstances (he was famously absent from the house’s Fall 2011 show, amidst rumors of depression and anxiety), Givhan’s point remains a sober critique of the fashion industry at large: what good is a system that sets intentionally absurd prices on items, absent of quality or workenmanship?

Do you agree? Is there such a thing as grotesque excess in fashion and if so, is it even worth pointing out?

Source: Balmain’s Big Rip-Off