BALMAIN CONFIRMS DUFOUR APPOINTMENT
Byline: Katherine Weisman
PARIS — Gilles Dufour has been named artistic director of Balmain’s diffusion ready-to-wear line and licensed products studio.
The appointment was announced by Oscar de la Renta, Balmain’s artistic director and couturier, and Georgina Brandolini, Balmain’s managing director, confirming a report in WWD on Wednesday.
Dufour will begin at Balmain on Sept. 1, and his first collection for the house will be shown in March for fall/winter 1999, Brandolini said.
“I think Gilles knows the people we dress and what they like,” said Brandolini, reached in Venice. “He did great work at Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld,” Brandolini added, referring to the 15 years that Dufour worked as the artistic director of Chanel’s design studios.
Added de la Renta, “We have been in conversations for a long time with Mr. Dufour, and I welcome him to the Balmain team.”
Dufour left Chanel in April, and on Wednesday night the house was preparing a joint statement with Dufour to formally announce his departure, according to Chanel SA president Francoise Montenay. The statement release awaits Dufour’s signature. Dufour could not be reached for comment.
Balmain’s spring 1999 diffusion line will be designed by an in-house team. The collection will be manufactured and distributed under license by Italy’s Staff International, with which Balmain signed a five-year contract earlier this year.
“I really like Staff, and everything with them stays the same,” Brandolini said. “The only thing that has changed is the designer.”
As reported, Balmain parted ways last month with designer Andrew Gn, who had been hired last year to relaunch Balmain’s diffusion ready-to-wear.
Balmain has three principal women’s collections. The haute couture has been designed by de la Renta since 1992. De la Renta also designs the Ivoire luxury ready-to-wear collection, whose suits retail from about $1,500 to $2,000. Brandolini describes it as a small, luxurious line that sits between the diffusion rtw and the couture. De la Renta confirmed Wednesday that he will continue designing the couture collection and Ivoire.
Balmain’s diffusion line is a more sportswear-oriented rtw collection. Retail prices for suits will be in the $830-to-$1,300 range, Brandolini said.
In addition to Dufour’s fashion responsibilities with diffusion, he will oversee the design of Balmain’s licensed products, which include shoes, scarves and leather goods. Brandolini said her goal is for Dufour to help develop a more coherent group of Balmain-branded goods.