Christophe Decarnin was born in Le Touquet, a northern French seaside resort, to which he remains deeply attached. What persuaded him to take up fashion was his teenage discovery of a book of photographs by Richard Avedon: a "decisive work", as he is often heard to say.
Having graduated from Esmod Paris, he worked for seven years as artistic director of women's ready-to-wear for Paco Rabanne, then as consultant for various French brands.
Appointed artistic director of the House of Balmain at the end of 2005, Christophe Decarnin remains true to his priorities: clothes and the way in which they determine a style, a character and an aura. But also realism in its most contemporary form, and the way in which it should become part and parcel of glamour.
Surrounded by a small team of people, still operating from the same address, 44, Rue François Premier, he explains: "My references are very visual. Anything and everything can inspire me: the women in my life, a piece of fabric, a colour, a photo, my imagination. But the important thing is to be able to transpose it all realistically. Because, after all, an item of clothing is made to be worn. Balmain is a couture house renowned for its evening gowns. For this reason, I made eveningwear a priority. But I want my clothes to be modern. When a woman wears a Balmain evening gown, she should feel just as good as she does in a T-shirt and jeans. Pierre Balmain had a very on-trend approach to fashion: he wanted to create the appropriate outfit for the appropriate moment. That is also my ambition."