Today, the high-flying Paris house will parade a Las Vegas-inspired collection here by its new designer, Olivier Rousteing — and it will close out 2011 with a string of new boutiques dotted across Asia, including six in China.
In a rare interview, Balmain chief executive officer Alain Hivelin discussed the latest developments for the privately held, debt-free company, which continues to post revenue growth in excess of 50 percent annually, something it’s done for the past five years.
In Tokyo last week for the opening of a boutique in Ginza in partnership with Bluebell Japan Ltd., Hivelin flicked through an iPad to show off images of other recently opened Asian units, including boutiques in Shanghai’s IFC, Beijing’s Sanlitun Village and at the Plaza 66 in Jinan.
He estimates that China will account for 6 to 8 percent of Balmain revenues in the next year, saying “the first sales figures are encouraging.”
While still wholesale driven, Balmain should end 2011 with 11 freestanding stores worldwide and six shops-in-shop. A Manhattan flagship ranks among future priorities, Hivelin noted.
The retail developments come in tandem with new deals for eyewear with L’Amy Group starting this spring and fragrances with Inter Parfums SA effective Jan. 1.
Balmain also closed the order books on the first season for its Pierre Balmain second line under license with Italy’s Ittierre SpA. First deliveries are expected in November to some 700 doors, ahead of sales targets, Hivelin said.
The fashion house underwent a jolt last March when its designer since 2005, Christophe Decarnin — who catapulted its notoriety with thigh-skimming dresses, strong-shouldered jackets and astronomically expensive destroyed T-shirts — was absent from its runway show under doctor’s orders.
Hivelin expressed regret over Decarnin’s departure due to health problems. “We had a fantastic working relationship. He’s a very professional man. I respect him. I like him,” Hivelin said. “In our industry, the pressure is very heavy, because you have to deliver every season…something that corresponds to the expectations of our customers, of the media, of everyone.”
That said, Hivelin lauded Rousteing and 13 other young international talents in the house’s design studios. He noted that orders for the pre-collection under Rousteing’s design purview jumped 25 percent.
“Olivier is fresh, he’s young, full of talent, very hardworking,” the executive enthused. “He has so much potential.”
A key deputy of Decarnin at Balmain since 2009, Rousteing, 26, previously worked for Roberto Cavalli for five years.
During a preview, Rousteing said the brand would continue down its rock ’n’ roll path with audacious, body-conscious designs and elaborate embroideries that can drive retail prices into the five figures. But he said he would leave behind the hole-ridden T-shirts and other grunge aspects, ramping up the “sophistication and couture feeling.”
Rousteing said he would not work with a stylist, but noted that Emmanuelle Alt, the editor in chief of French Vogue, who had collaborated with Decarnin, remains an inspirational muse.
“She’s relaxed and at the same time, superglamorous,” he enthused.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye