Balmain’s Christophe Decarnin Apparently in a Mental Hospital

As if the events of Paris Fashion Week so far couldn’t get any more bizarre or distressing, we’ve just gotten word that designer Christophe Decarnin was a no-show at the Balmain collection today because he’s been in a “mental hospital” since January, the result of a nervous breakdown.

Decarnin is said to have disappeared one day in mid-January. Soon after, according to our source, it was announced to employees that he would not be returning. We’re told he was not involved in the fall collection, which was designed instead by Balmain’s in-house team and stylist Melanie Ward, who took over for Emmanuelle Alt, the new editor-in-chief of French Vogue following Carine Roitfeld’s departure.

Balmain’s owner, M. Alain Hivelin, said backstage, “He’s tired after working on the collection. He’s not here. He’s resting.” We’d like to think that’s all it is.

Update 3/6/11:
Shortly after we ran the above, amid a swirl of confusion and dismay following his absence at Balmain, the troubling news of Decarnin’s hospitalization was confirmed in WWD, as well as and The Huffington Post. Reasons alternate between exhaustion and depression. Balmain owner M. Alain Hivelin told The Daily Beast, “He has been exhausted because this season was particularly demanding and complicated,” but also said the reason for his ailment is “not physical.” Today, the New York Times reported that several assistants have left Balmain as a result of “no clear direction” at the house. A statement has yet to be released, but the general consensus is that Decarnin’s hospitalization, whatever the nature, is most likely caused by a new climate in which designers find themselves working, one of heightened pressure and increased demands from above. 

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