Last season at Balmain, the label’s biggest fans competed for who could wear the widest shoulders. In fact Balmain—or more pointedly, designer Christophe Decarnin—is to blame for every overly structured shoulder on the market. And there are loads of them. Everywhere.

So what’s he to blame for this spring? Well, ripped-up sweaters and dresses that your mother will hate, and shredded hemlines that will go down just as well. That’s because Christophe has gone from disco dancer to dragon slayer. If his former muse was Joan Collins in her Dynasty days, his new muse is a warrior woman—even tougher, has a far worse bite and isn’t the least bit concerned about accessorizing, other than the odd belt or military medal. Christophe doesn’t clutter his collections. After all, there’s more than enough going on as it is: distressed denim, second-skin leather, chain mail, sequins (naturally), lacing, camouflage, wrapping, twisting, tearing, layering, draping and shaping.

Military jackets straight out of the army surplus store were paired with skin-tight sequin jeans and torn khaki T-shirts. Chain-mail and leather dresses looked like they barely survived a run-in with a fire-breathing beast (or an eager shopper with chronic Balmania). As ever, hems were kept short and sexy, and the signature shoulder was still there, but rather than structured, it was decorated with elaborate epaulets. While women will still, no doubt, happily part with $10,000 for a piece of the collection, it’s unlikely that it will attract too many new fans—it was just too dark and somber for summer. 

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