After Creative Director Christophe Decarnin’s exit from Balmain in 2011, Olivier Rousteing took over the reigns of the label and made history by becoming the first black head designer for a heritage firm and the youngest to head a Parisian fashion house since the iconic Yves Saint Laurent became lead designer for Dior in 1957. Whether or not you’re a fan of the present aesthetic of the Balmain house, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that Rousteing has propelled the firm with his flashier designs and love for embellishment.
In the past, Rousteing (who was adopted by white parents at the age of one) had been vocal about the need for diversity in the fashion world. “My vision and aesthetic is about being mixed and diverse. I love different colors and shapes, so I use fashion to promote the need to believe in different races, backgrounds and cultures,” he said in an interview with the magazine hypebeast.
His 2017 men’s spring collection debut in Paris embraced that notion, as he provided 80 looks that ranged from relaxed denim to elaborate, beaded jackets, all while incorporating pieces from the womenswear resort collection into the mix.
The designer looked to a day at the beach as his muse, inspired both by the colors and the scenery. Hoodies, billowy wrap jackets, long cardigans and distressed denim all showcased the relaxed feeling that accompanies a sunny day at the beach. Monochromatic looks opened the show, with layered denim, sand colored suede and olive green from head to toe, but the designer also showed off his flair for combining vibrant hues. He dove far from the saccharine shades that are usually associated with spring collections and ventured into a world of bold orange, cobalt, deep pink, and purple. He also brought the tassel trend to men, with oversized tassels on necklaces and slip on sandals.
There was also a much more fantastical part of Olivier Rousteing’s beach theme, particularly in perfectly tailored and intricately beaded caftans and jackets that seemed fitting for a modern-day pharaoh. While all the detail and adornments might look out of place in other Parisian firm’s menswear collections, Rousteing’s vision becomes clearer when you take a gander at Balmain’s celebrity following (which includes the likes of actor and singer Ricky Martin, rapper Kanye West and sports star Dwyane Wade).
Far right: Oliver Rousteing
As for the women’s looks that took the stage, some followed the relaxed vibe from the menswear pieces (of particular interest were a long oversized denim coat and multicolor crocheted skirts), but it wouldn’t be Balmain without body conscious silhouettes and beaded mini-dresses.
With a successful H&M collaboration behind him and a Nike collaboration on the up, Rousteing has brought high Parisian couture to the masses. While his flashy style might scare the demure dresser, one thing is for sure: Balmain has become one of the most coveted luxury brands with Rousteing behind the wheel.
Images via Balmain’s Facebook ■