There has been a fashionable fascination with Christophe Decarnin for a few seasons now, but I still remember my first ever Balmain moment: it was SS07 and seemed to me that Decarnin was having a flashback to the Nineties’ love affair with khaki (remember combats-and-vests girl band, All Saints? They ruled the camouflage school!) The most memorable Balmain piece, for me, was the khaki mini dress with crystal neck detail, and I think this was primarily due to Gemma Ward’s lean, tanned legs that led the eye down to her black gladiator platforms, adding a tough vibe and updating the look perfectly for the Noughties. Again, I was impressed with Decarnin’s next collection (AW07) for the French label when I greedily flicked through the catwalk photos following fashion week. I was in awe of Natasha Poly’s thighs striding through the split black chiffon of a black strapless dress, stomping her black suede ankle boots every step of the way down the catwalk. She looked so strong and sexy, but most importantly, there was an air of nonchalance enveloping her obvious confidence (actually, all the models had it), the ultimate accessory for such a statement outfit.
My point is that Decarnin has created a definitive “Balmain” woman and he has continued the strong yet relaxed, slightly detached, aesthetic for her over the seasons. For 2010 he offers metallic glam-rock mini dresses from the summer line, and for winter, black leather trousers slung so low, they would have no problem fighting off those worn by Britney in her “Slave for You” video. (Minus the superhero-esque pink thong, of course. Not cool). The personifying “Balmain” look from the AW10 collection? It’s got to be the black and gold brocade mini dress with defined shoulders, modelled perfectly by today’s answer to La Crawford, Cameron Russell.
In my daydreams, I am the Balmain woman. I want to be the girl who wears her glossy mane loosely tousled, the girl who doesn’t need too much make up because her legs are doing all the talking, whether bare or leather clad. I envy a girl who isn’t so sexy that she’s intimidating, but rather, she’s so comfortable with her body that she’s totally sexy in an understated way. She wears Isabel Marant skirts with slouchy, fringed boots, and has an “off-duty-model” look about her. She’s the girl who’ll loan you her toothbrush or bartend your party, if Kings of Leon were to ask her.
As I write this, my first ever blog, the trilling of my telephone provides a rather rude awakening. My mind returns to reality: I am not this girl and, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m actually situated firmly at the opposite end of the style spectrum. I’m the girl who wears polka dot dresses with halter necks and full skirts. I wear 5 inch heels not because they’re fashionable, but because at 5’5, I have little choice. (Ooh and how I love them!) If I dare to attempt the rock chick vibe, I end up looking try-too-hard, dispelling any chance of the desired “I really couldn’t care less” attitude.
Let’s compare my fantasy style to my real style. Oh come on, it’ll be fun.
The rock chick has a chest that requires no support; bra shopping for me involves regular fittings in stores that offer a D+ range. The Balmain woman wears sequin jackets; I wear crew neck cardigans. The cool girl looks, well, cool, in gladiator flats; I look stupid. She has narrow hips that rattle around in her skinny jeans, whereas I have child-bearing hips ready to rear a family worthy of military proportions. (Oh, sure, I have a small waist, but if I overdo it on Dairy Milk, I lose the waist and in return gain a pot belly). I am Charlotte; I want to be Carrie. I want to be a tough Tom Binns skull necklace but actually, I am a pretty dress by Oscar de la Renta.
But I love Oscar! So why aren’t I happy?
Perhaps I would be just as frustrated if I was in fact tall and slender. Would I be irritated by every pair of jeans being just that bit too short for my super long pins? Would I wish for womanly curves, say Beyonce’s butt and Dita’s pin-up voluptuousness? I suppose what I’m asking is if the grass is always greener? Is the angry hourglass not alone in her quest for what she doesn’t have? Is the pear an annoyed pear? Is the apple really a grumpy apple? And is the tube actually a frustrated tube who would give her Converse All Stars for some T&A?
Oh, probably not. She’s too cool to care.