Over the past seasons, I always have respect for Christophe DeCarnin's work for Balmain and how strong his aesthetic is. He pulls off the rock chic look so effortlessly and the models always look so confident and forceful on the runway. I admit, there's not a whole lot of variation from season to season, but what do you expect to see from Balmain? Flowery chiffon dresses? I don't think so.
Although I do agree that Balmain sells far more from what it's worth, completely simple minded from an aesthetic standpoint, and also ultimately pretty overrated, I can honestly say that the clothes have never actually looked cheap to me. Tacky, yes. Vulgar, kind of. Obnoxious, mostly. But while I've never felt that the clothes matched their price tags, they still looked like luxurious designer-level pieces for the most detail parts.
However I can't say that about this S/S2011 collection. It is actually a little bit of a let down for me where I see it as a bit of an aftermath collection. That is, it seems almost like the Balmain aesthetic has peaked (last season with its heavy embellishment and Baroque influences, etc), and it appears that Mr. DeCarnin now has nowhere to go, resulting in a collection that repeating the exact type of clothes and mood from previous collections, this time in a double doze. Of course, sticking to what you do best isn't a problem, and I do like some of the individual pieces like the jackets, as usual, but the studs and safety pins all over are just a little bit so...overdone. More than anything I just find this collection a little lazy, although what do I know? The way some people talk you'd think they've never seen a safety pin before in their life. And after all you have to appreciate the man in how he can get away with selling filthy looking tees for thousands of dollars.