PARIS — Christophe Lebourg has been named the new artistic director for Balmain.

Lebourg, 40, succeeds creative director Laurent Mercier, who, as reported, left Balmain in June after designing one couture and three ready-to-wear collections.

The new designer will create the house’s ready-to-wear line, the first of which is scheduled for an October showing.

Balmain’s plans for couture remain unclear, after its no-show during the July fashion season.

“For the moment, I have asked [Christophe Lebourg] to do prêt-à-porter,” explained Alain Hivelin, Balmain’s president and chief executive officer, in a telephone interview. “[Balmain] doesn’t have another artistic director, so [if there are to be couture collections] he will do them. But for the moment, I haven’t made that decision.”

Hivelin explained he chose Lebourg as Balmain’s designer because his creative ability “responds to our expectations vis-à-vis our clientele.”

Lebourg, who is traveling, could not be reached for comment at press time.

He’s no newcomer to fashion, having acted as artistic director for Rodier, where he designed the women’s apparel and accessories lines. Other jobs included creating the Christophe Lebourg line for Joseph, his own line and working as artistic director at Callaghan and Cacharel.

Lebourg follows in the footsteps of numerous rtw fashion designers at Balmain, including Gilles Dufour and Andrew Gn. Last year, Oscar de la Renta left the house after a 10-year stint designing the house’s couture collections.

Hivelin said Balmain’s current focus is on its production facilities and retail network. These include the factory and four boutiques in France and Belgium that the firm recently took over from Thierry Mugler’s fashion business, as reported. Hivelin said Balmain will introduce a new retail concept in those stores by yearend and that the brand’s six other shops will be refurbished along the same lines.

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