Balmain F/W 08-09

The buzz about Balmain has been growing over the past few seasons and the label's been on the lovely lips (and bodies) of ladies like Erin Wasson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Carine Roitfeld. One of the amusingly genius aspects about designer Christophe Decarnin is that he seems to have the same sort of outfit ADD that afflicts most fashion followers. His spring show celebrated luxe sixties boho style, an aesthetic he completely discarded for his subsequent autumnal collection. Instead of haute hippie looks, this season it's all about Ziggy Stardust glam mixed with pseudo punk pieces. The result is rock 'n' roll, highly desirable, and easy to emulate-three good reasons to turn this collection into an Inspired By story!

If you haven't seen Balmain's Fall 08 show, we can sum it up in just a few words: shoulders, sequins, and skin-tight pants. In short, it's sexy, but not in the stereotypical, obvious (think: cleavage and pointy stiletto pumps), red carpet way. The stunning One Shouldered Dress with Chainmail ($13,000) has a flattering single strap silhouette and rouched fabric, giving the dress a gorgeously Grecian effect. Of course, this being Balmain means that the frock's classic elements get a modern twist, via a body-conscious fit and disco-shimmer chainmail side panel. The collection also offers stripped down, slightly gritty pieces, like Leather Biker Trousers ($4410) that are sure to be the must-have piece amongst the millionaire model set-at least the ones who live in East Village! Leather leggings aside, Decarnin also showed lots of animal print pieces (glittery zebra jackets, Red Snake Skin Print Biker Jeans ($3096)), sleeveless shirts galore (simple tanks, sequined tops), and a perfect pair of plaid pants. The footwear was equally yummy, as every look came down the runway accessorized with a pair of Fringed Leather Boots ($1025). With all of these items in mind, we set out to find the best Balmain-style pieces at an affordable price point and are wholly proud of what we sleuthed out. Hopefully you will be inspired by our finds too!

1. Gryphon Sequin Jacket ($595)
A little show-stopping shimmer is a necessary part of any Balmain-inspired outfit, so we were thrilled when we found this brilliant Gryphon jacket. Available in indigo, black, or the above shown silver, this sequined number has a modern slim fit (so you won't look too eighties) and would look amazing with a snug pair of black biker pants.

2. Kenneth Jay Lane Snake Cuff($264)
While it's not likely that we're going to buy the Snake Skin Print Biker Jeans ($3148) any time soon, we can add a serpentine hint to our outfits with this KJL cuff. The bracelet's shiny black enamel body sets off the pave reptile perfectly.

3. Kova & T Jessie Tank ($125)
Decarnin showed non-sparkly shirts too, in fact, he chose to pair much of his standout collection with simple white or black tees. Temper your bolder Balmain-inspired pieces with an understated top (to show off those shoulders!) like this pocket tank from Kova & T.

4. Baker's Flare Boot ($129.95)
These runway ready boots from Baker's inspired this entire story, thanks to their fabulous fringed look. They have a four-inch-plus heel, come in Balmain black or tan suede, and hit a little above the ankle. They're so similar to the fashion house's version, it's amazing!

5. Alloy Plaid Skinny Pantsicon ($34.50)
How wonderful are these tartan trousers? They remind us of two things: the red-and-black checked Balmain pants Kate Moss can't stop wearing and a much-beloved Dollhouse pair we owned in junior high. The tight fit is essential (baggy plaid=golf course) and since they make a big statement, keep the rest of your outfit minimalist.

6. Alexander Wang Distressed Leather Belt ($176)
One of our favourite designers, Alexander Wang, produces work with a model-off-duty vibe, so naturally we wanted to include a piece in today's story, as Balmain's fall collection has a similarly cool spirit. Per the French fashion house's runway, belts were utilitarian and unfussy, just like this distressed leather option from Wang.

7. Topshop Animal Pencil Skirt ($80) and Lace Print Pencil Skirt ($60)
Right now, Topshop is stocked loads of ripped-from-the-runway items, like these two pencil skirts. Whether you prefer the bold red tiger print or the slightly more demure lace version, either way, you'll look very Balmain.

8. Alice + Olivia Sequined One Shoulder Dress($495)
The moment we saw this sparkly one-shouldered dress we knew it was an ideal piece for our Inspired By: Balmain story. The black sequined frock has single, wide strap and the short length will show off your legs admirably. Wear it with a tuxedo blazer and some statement earrings for a killer party look.

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