Balmain means rhinestones, rhinestones mean Balmain. The eighties throwback detail that has played such a vital role in the success of the Parisian brand, was back on the runway this September. But above all, Balmain means Olivier Rousteing and Olivier Rousteing means Balmain. This Spring, the Bordeaux-born designer chooses to pay tribute to Paris, the city that has been his chicer-than-chic playground for over two years now. Rousteing doesn’t just admire the city of lights on the surface, he delves into its history and architecture, in particular pieces brought back from, or inspired by, Egypt. One of his main inspirations is obviously the Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde, but he also namechecks I. M. Pei’s Pyramids at the Louvre. The influence is most obvious in the hieroglyphs on some dresses and tops. But this collection goes deeper, as Olivier Rousteing’s gives Kalasiris, traditional dresses from Ancient Egypt, a twist, producing exceptional pieces. The pleats that feature on skirts, dresses and tops are key, as are the round shoulders that simply make the shape of any look, not to mention the luxe, yet delicate, detail of the little inserts on dresses and belts. For evening, Rousteing takes things up a notch with neoprene and sequins for the ultimate in chic. Balmain’s staple body-con dresses come with mirrors (some coloured) and plexiglass patchwork not unlike the facets of the Louvre’s pyramids. Layered muslin, thick belts, tweed and silk finish off the look, at times with a little hood or a well-placed cut-out. In a word, a remarkable update of the classics, with an added touch of Balmain.
The Balmain fashion house was founded in 1945 in Paris at 44 rue François 1er. The label’s founder, Pierre Balmain, former assistant to Lucien Lelong with Christian Dior, established his “Jolie Madame” style quite early on: a chic and sleek silhouette, worlds apart from the casual trend of those times. While releasing his couture creations, the prolific designer also launched three fragrances between 1946 and 1949 and continued to produce for the house until his death in 1982.
The label’s rebirth came along with Christophe Decarnin, creative designer at Balmain from 2006 to 2011.
Olivier Rousteing was born in 1985 and grew up in Bordeaux before moving to Paris to attend classes at the ESMOD fashion school. He quickly realized that the classes did not fit his needs and decided to travel. In 2003, he started working atRoberto Cavalli where he stayed five years. In 2009, he joined Balmain to supervise the women’s ready-to-wearcreations working with Christophe Decarnin, the label’s creative designer at the time. In 2011, Olivier Rousteing succeeded Christophe Decarnin.