Byline: Sarah Raper

PARIS — With Oscar de la Renta doing couture and Andrew Gn recently named artistic director for ready-to-wear, the house of Balmain already boasts more designers than most of its competitors.
But you can never have enough talent in the studio argues Balmain’s new general manager, Georgina Brandolini. So she has signed — on a consultant basis — Christian Louboutin to do Balmain’s shoes and is negotiating with Lucien Pellat-Finet to design a collection of knits that will be sold under the Balmain label. It’s part of her strategy to set the house apart from others here.
“Eventually there could be bags, other accessories, swimsuits and lingerie done the same way,” she said.
“Georgina’s idea is similar to Andy Warhol’s Factory — grouping artists together — but for couture,” Louboutin said. His shoes will first appear in Balmain stores beginning in November while Pellat-Finet’s sweaters will debut in January, Brandolini said. Those lines will carry labels with the designer’s name “for Balmain,” and they will be exclusive to the fashion house.
Brandolini, who recently joined Balmain after more than two decades as Valentino’s representative in Paris, started with designers she knew well. Both Louboutin and Pellat-Finet said that Brandolini personally had long been a loyal client.
“She has a sizable collection of my sweaters,” said Pellat-Finet. “She knows exactly what she’s getting into and she knows my strengths and limitations.”
Pellat-Finet said he would design a complete line of knits in cotton, wool and cashmere, which would be produced in Italy.
He said wholesale prices would be between $160 and $250, in line with those for his own collection.
Louboutin said his goal was to create a shoe that would be identified with Balmain. “It won’t be a large collection, probably 20 models,” he said. The shoes will retail for $350 to $450, similar to Louboutin’s own label.
Brandolini said the shoes would be designed for the rtw but that Louboutin might also eventually do the shoes for couture as well.

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