Balenciaga is pulling its business from PR Consulting, the Pierre Rougier-led firm that has handled its public relations for the past 12 years, and bringing responsibility for U.S. p.r. in-house. And the house wasted no time in spreading the news, which was first reported on WWD.com, and put out feelers for meetings with editors in mid-June, when the Paris team will be in New York with the pre-spring collection. Further, the new role of U.S. director of public relations for Balenciaga is expected to be filled next week. Why the switch? “It’s a normal evolution,” Lionel Vermeil, communications director for Balenciaga, told WWD.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

However, sources said tensions sprang from a staffing switch — a Balenciaga designer had left the French house for a job with a New York-based label that was also represented by PR Consulting. Others speculated Balenciaga executives were generally upset with what they saw as too-close similarities between Nicolas Ghesquière’s designs and those of other PR Consulting clients.

Asked about losing Balenciaga — widely considered one of PR Consulting’s crown jewels — Rougier wouldn’t comment on the rumors, but told WWD, “It’s been a wonderful 12-year adventure with Balenciaga and I really wish Nicolas and Balenciaga all the best and lots of luck going forward. It’s been really great and I really don’t want it to seem any other way.”