The former, made with a material containing 46 percent recycled plastic Evian bottles, is slated to make a splash at Balmain’s spring 2023 fashion show on Sept. 28 during Paris Fashion Week. The latter, a limited-edition glass bottle, is dropping in October, festooned with bold, gold lettering, blue lace, droplet motifs and baroque touches.
Both projects, the first volleys in an ongoing collaboration between Balmain and Evian, also signal a deeper dive into sustainability for the Paris-based fashion house.
“I love doing something unexpected,” Rousteing said in a phone interview, revealing the tie-up exclusively to WWD.
While describing the water brand as an emblem of French excellence — bottles of it stood on his childhood kitchen table, and can be imbibed in the fine establishments he frequents as a famous, globe-trotting designer — Rousteing also highlighted a key link between it and house founder Pierre Balmain: both hail from the French Alps.
Cue the 100 percent polyester fabric that Evian supplied for the one-off Balmain couture dress, its liquid quality immediately giving Rousteing the idea to create a dress resembling a “huge wave.”
“The fabric is amazing. It looks like a duchesse, kind of metallic and watery It feels really modern,” he said. “It’s going to be a white dress, really pure.
“I love this idea of bringing Evian into this couture world, and making that wave of water.”
Rousteing noted that he pleated the fabric, in line with Balmain’s reputation for haute craftsmanship, and exaggerated the volumes to send an unmissable message that recycled fabrics are hardly short on glamor, and capable of fashion fireworks.
Given its composition, the fabric can be easily recycled and upcycled — or turned back into Evian bottles in the future.
For maximum impact, Rousteing plans to put the dress on a famous model in the fashion show, part of a broader Balmain Festival that will be attended by upward of 15,000 people and feature musical performances as well.
It is understood the dress will ultimately be sold, with proceeds going to charity.
Rousteing acknowledged that sustainability is “not an easy topic” and as he wades further in, he plans to rely on partners like Evian that can share expertise and the latest technological developments to help Balmain develop more eco-friendly products.
For example, he is exploring how to incorporate plastic bottle waste, or PET, into his sneaker designs for the fashion house.
“I learned so, so much doing this project,” he said. “The future is obviously about sustainability, for a new generation that wants to have a real message and not a fake one. And to accomplish that and deliver the message, you need to collaborate with experts.
“I don’t want to close my eyes; I want to really understand the danger our planet is in. And that’s why Evian isn’t a one-shot: It’s going to be a long-term collaboration, not because it’s trendy but because we just need to collaborate to actually help the world to get better.”
For the limited-edition glass bottle in the 750-ml size, Rousteing also wished to create an object that breathes maximalism.
“What I wanted to bring to them is the rich richness of our beautiful Paris, which is the City of Light,” he said, explaining that most people probably expect something simple and minimal when they hear the descriptor “sustainable.”
It is understood another product initiative is being readied for release in the first half of 2023.
Dawid Borowiec, global director at Evian, said the project with Rousteing and Balmain represents a “shared determination to push forward sustainable innovation in the industry.”
Evian began collaborating with fashion designers and luxury brands 15 years ago, creating collectible bottle designs by the likes of Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Virgil Abloh, Paul Smith, Diane von Furstenberg, Issey Miyake, Courrèges, Kenzo, Alexander Wang and Elie Saab.
Headquartered near Évian-les-Bains, France, where its famous water is sourced, Evian became a certified B Corp in 2021, regarded as a gold standard for sustainable companies.
Evian has committed to become a fully circular brand by 2025, by which time it will make all its plastic bottles from 100 percent recycled materials, and keep plastic out of nature.
Rousteing harbors similar ambitions.
“It’s going to be a long journey, because we cannot do 100 percent of our clothes and accessories sustainable right now,” he said. “But learning the process through collaborations is going to help the brand to one day become completely sustainable. That’s what I’m gonna learn in the next years.”