PARIS — Balmain said Tuesday it’s skipping couture week in July and parting ways with its creative director, Laurent Mercier. This confirms a report in these columns on Friday.

But the house said it plans to continue its couture activity and be back on the ready-to-wear runway by October with a new creative director. A Balmain spokeswoman said an announcement is expected by mid-July, but she declined to identify potential candidates.

As reported, Balmain also is expected to take over the Thierry Mugler factory in Angers, France, and its four Paris boutiques. Groupe Clarins, owner of Mugler, plans to shutter the money-losing fashion house to concentrate on Mugler fragrances and is expected to detail its plans today at a special employee meeting. About 250 Mugler employees are affected.

Balmain, which enjoyed 10 years of strong press and consistent sales with couturier Oscar de la Renta before his swan song a year ago, has endured a revolving door in its ready-to-wear department. Mercier, who took up the couture reins for one season after three rtw outings, failed to generate buzz for the house or carve out a new direction. His arrival in 2001 came after the house chewed through a string of designers, including Gilles Dufour and Andrew Gn.

Mercier had a signature line prior to joining Balmain and said he plans to relaunch that collection next year.

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