Whether you consider yourself to be a paid up member of the Balmain Army or not, you absolutely can not deny the brand power of this Fashion House. Having risen almost stratospherically and relying on celebrity friends (Kardashians anyone?) to boost the projectile of the brand, Olivier Rousteing has transformed the once tired House of Balmain since he took the reins in 2011. Rousteing overhauled the brand and its logo, giving it a signature, luxe aesthetic, with each new season came a fresh new look, with the same underpinnings of luxury and opulence. The Balmain customer was rich, and worth it – The Balmain Army was born and Rousteing became known for his diverse runways.
But for everything Rousteing was known for, Couture was not one of them. In the 16 years he has held the helm of Balmain, he has not once produced a couture collection preferring to work the commercial runways of Global Fashion Month, producing a collection of lipsticks with L’Oreal, and even producing a limited collection for Victoria’s Secret which was hugely lucrative for the brand and has since led to further designer collaborations for the lingerie giant.
Now in 2019 as Olivier Rousteing prepares to open the brand’s flagship on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, Balmain is ready to embrace couture in a big way, and what better way to show it to the world than in the brand new flagship store prior to its opening?
For his first couture collection, Rousteing went maximalist, leaving the wearability for the mainline runways he sent a futuristic collection down his runway embodying the perfect “21st Century Vision” which looked more rooted in and inspired by the exaggerated shapes of the 80’s and Total Recall. Using a mostly monochrome palette and a focus on geometric shapes, at times this collection looked like a page from a middle grade math book, I guess in kind of a good way.
“It’s just good to challenge myself. Sometimes fashion loves putting people in a box. I’m obsessed with embroideries…but I can do cuts, and my cuts can be as maximalist as my embroideries” Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director, Balmain.
Once you lift away some of the more exaggerated shapes, that signature Balmain aesthetic is definitely still there and on some of the embroidered pieces it’s more apparent at first glance. But then I guess that’s what couture is about, it’s about pushing boundaries, moving the goalposts, creating something new in order to make someone look and feel opulent and wonderful and that’s what he’s done. The collection looks like every item I imagine Grace Jones wears one her days off, it had accessories, it had glasses, it was an entire feast for the eyes – if a little unexpected. It’s definitely got Lady Gaga written all over it, in fact I imagine she’s calling Olivier for her Oscar’s outfit right now….