Even before John Galliano‘s anti-Semitic rant has left the collective consciousness of the fashion industry, another esteemed Parisian designer has visibly buckled under his position’s immense pressure. Hintmag is reporting the sad news that Christophe Decarnin, the designer who has headed Balmain since 2005, was not present for the label’s Fall 2011 show today because he suffered from a nervous breakdown and has been in a mental hospital since January.
Showgoers felt that something suspicious was going on when Decarnin didn’t take a bow after the collection was presented, but Balmain‘s owner quickly commented, “He’s tired, after working on the collection. He’s not here. He’s resting.” However, Hint heard that the designer disappeared over a month ago, and due to his absence, had very little hand in the collection, which was taken over by Balmain’s in-house design team and stylist Melanie Ward.
Decarnin has faced some criticism over the past couple of seasons for being a one-trick ponyhis flashy collections have started to look very much the samebut it causes us to wonder whether or not the whole “tortured artist” stereotype rings true in the fashion industry. Creative minds like Decarnin, who clearly faces some sort of depression, John Galliano, whose anger and substance abuse issues have been made very public this past week, and even Lee Alexander McQueen, whose drug habit and eventual suicide are explored in depth in a new documentary, all seem to have struggled with similar obstacles as a result of their successful, high-profile careers.
While fashion really is an art and is meant to be beautiful, it’s turned into such a fast-paced, commercial endeavor that the pressure to make clothes that sell must be unbearableespecially if it forces designers to show work that isn’t completely in line with their visions or that they don’t fully believe in. That, paired with the instantaneous feedback and criticism on the Internetwhich is often anonymous and cruelcould be enough to push someone over the edge.
I completely agree with the steps Dior has taken in response to Galliano’s hateful rant, but it’s a true shame that one of the greatest visionaries and couturiers in the world will no longer get to grace us with his designs. The same goes for the tragedy of McQueen, whose untimely death last year was truly a waste of one of the generation’s biggest talents. I sincerely hope that both Decarnin and Galliano get the help that they needsince couture is a dying art, experts like them are the key to keeping it alive.
Photos via Imaxtree