In 1954, when Pierre Balmain was approaching the apogee of a four-decade career, the French couturier was counted among the “Big Three” of Parisian fashion, along with Christian Dior and Jacques Fath

“A garment made by Pierre Balmain was the very quintessence of haute couture,” the Vogueeditor Diana Vreeland said.

Balmain’s elaborately embroidered evening gowns were particularly admired, as were his furs. Balmain showed fox pelts with eyes made out of 12-carat diamonds. He’d opened for business in 1945, not long after the liberation of Paris, and reigned during the ’50s when all the world celebrated the spectacle of French luxury and elegance reborn. But his chic and structured Jolie Madame look lost currency as the ’50s turned into the ’60s, and was in decline by the time he died in 1982.

Before Christophe Decarnin’s appointment as artistic director in 2005, nearly a dozen designers had tried to fill Monsieur Balmain’s shoes. Only one of these made a mark: Oscar de la Renta, who spent nearly a decade at the helm of the couture line—from 1993 to 2002. Decarnin turned the Maison on its head. Wagering from the start that any specific nods to Balmain’s half-forgotten mid-century designs would not be recognized by the public, he eschewed the formula of plucking from the archives.

Sparkling, strong-shouldered, micro-length, and often savagely deconstructed, Decarnin’s work sparked a craze christened “Balmania.” Even Michael Jackson caught the bug. But in March 2011, Decarnin was mysteriously absent from the Fall runway show. Shortly after, newspapers around the world blared out the news of his departure. Balmain, once again, was without a leader.

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Director: Cat with Knife

Executive Producer: Victoria Makarova

Producer Assistant: Lena Golikova

Stylist: Anastasia Batalova

Stylist Assistant: Maria Shentalinskaya

Hair and Make-up Artist: Margarita Yavorskaya, Anna Yelanskaya, Alexandra Barkalina

Camera B Operator: Egor Chechkin

1AC: Denis Shaiakhov, Igor Halilyulin

2AC: Alexey Lazovsky

Music: Yan Pavelchuk

Color Correction: Evgeny Gvozdev

Clean-up: Roman Starostin

Special Thanks: Second Friend Store, Olga Zaitseva, Anton Gromov, KIRILLIN Camera Rental, Sergey Pavlov, Alexey Salnikov, Yuri Halturin, Alexey Vazhov, Vsevolod Girnik, Illarion Ershov, Semen Ivanov, Irina Zlobina, Demir Kuular, Igor Shichkov, Evgeny Nikitin, Anastasia Trushina, Sonya Pankevich