Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art


NEW YORK — Olivier Rousteing has fans who scream for him like he’s a pop star and solicit him for selfies, which he happily takes. And they (his Balmain army) were out in full force Tuesday night at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to see his live Q&A with Alina Cho, host of the seasonal series “The Atelier With Alina Cho.”

Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, talked about his childhood, his mentor Peter Dundas’ abrupt exit from Roberto Cavalli and his plans for Balmain following its being acquired by Mayhoola for Investments. Here, the highlights.

On his plans for Balmain post-acquisition: “I don’t know what they paid, but I’m really happy to work with them. For five years you have a story to tell. You have to fight for creating an identity. When I was talking about my last show and said the Balmain army is softer and she is less aggressive, I think it is because I feel less aggressive as well. You have a lot of boundaries to break in fashion and after five years now I have my own identity. So now I don’t have to prove myself anymore. I just want to challenge myself.”

On launching accessories: “I think now, for me, Balmain has to grow like I’ve grown up for five years as a designer, but now I want to expand Balmain to be a really big brand globally. With accessories we are going to launch to a new world and open to a new kind of crowd. I’m aware that the Balmain world is an expensive and luxury world, but I love my crowd as well that might not [be able to] afford my clothes, so I clearly want to expand into a lot of accessories with great quality and get a new crowd with that. For me it’s really important that I have different people who believe in my world.”

On being adopted: “I was carrying around my pajamas because I was really insecure and I was really worried that they would bring me back to the orphanage when I was a kid. I was really insecure when I was a kid. I was really afraid that there would be that moment [when they said] ‘Oh, f–k, he’s not the right choice.’”

On Peter Dundas leaving Roberto Cavalli: “You are never surprised [when these changes happen]. Fashion is always something unexpected, but what’s for sure is that Peter is a really talented designer and he’s an amazing, amazing person. He’s generous and he believed in me from the beginning and I have no doubt that he’s such a great talent and wherever he is going to go he will make a huge success. I love him and I just wish him good.”

On diversity: “I think sometimes the fashion industry talks a lot, but they don’t act a lot about diversity and I think this is one of my roles. I love doing clothes, but I love expressing my world and my world is about diversity. So, yeah, I think for me I can’t imagine a catwalk that doesn’t represent all the cultures that I can represent with my fashion and this for me is the most important thing. When you see the criticism of some shows where they say ‘that’s so modern, that’s so chic, that’s so modern, that’s so chic,’ apparently everybody knows the definition of what is chic and what is modern. But when you see a show and there are no colors in the show and they call that modern or chic, I wouldn’t call that modern. I’m sorry. Diversity is what is today. It is what is the actuality.”

On convincing his bosses at Balmain to embrace social media: “There was a question about if you can mix luxury with digital. Can you expect to sell a $20,000 dress and at the same time have a digital influence, which means you are going to talk to a different crowd and they might not [be able to] afford your clothes. I think that’s what’s modern today. That’s what’s fashion. To talk to a crowd is good, but if you can talk to the world it’s even better.”

On meeting Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala: “I think I just had one of the biggest crushes of my life. She was really shy. I was really shy as well. The Met Gala is something that is really impressive and I saw Kanye [West] and I knew Kanye from Paris and he introduced me to Kim and I fell in love with her straight away. And from that we built our friendship and she’s one of the women that’s probably inspired me the most in my life.”

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