MOUNTAIN HIGH: Leave it to Olivier Rousteing to work some fierce fashion attitude — and major shoulder pads — into skiwear.
Balmain’s new limited-edition collection with heritage ski brand Rossignol, hitting stores on Friday, includes a women’s one-piece suit in Balmain’s Labyrinth logo cinched with a gold-medallion belt; a futuristic helmet with a mirrored visor, and cozy sweaters and boots for off-piste pursuits.
The collaboration unites two brands with roots in French Alpine villages.
Pierre Balmain, who funded his couture house in 1945, grew up in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, and learned to appreciate mountain sports from his rebellious mother Françoise, who hid her ski pants underneath tweed skirts, and encourages biking and hiking in the summer months, according to the house.
Balmain named some of his most popular couture designs after mountains, resorts and towns in France’s Savoy region, and also designed the uniforms for Olympic staff when France hosted the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble.
Carpenter Abel Rossignol made his first pair of wooden skis in Voiron, France, in 1907, and the company became the world’s largest producer of skis in 1970, adding boots in 1989 and eventually expanding into clothing to go with its high-tech equipment. Alberto Tomba, Émile Allais and Jean Vuarnet are among famous Olympic athletes who won medals on Rossignol skis.
To underscore the authenticity of the gear, Balmain enlisted two athletes — moguls champion Perrine Laffont and freestyle skier Hugo Laugier — to model the clothes atop Bellevarde, a picturesque summit at the Val d’Isère ski resort. Francesca Beltran captured the two for campaign stills and videos.
Alessandro Locatelli, chief executive officer of Rossignol Apparel, said Rousteing gave a vibrant look to ski outfits, while keeping performance features intact.
“It was not easy for us on a technical level to follow his couturier hand on garments that essentially have a sport cut,” he told WWD.
But he said Rossignol arrived at ergonomic fits for ease of movement on the slopes. The jacquard, monogram fabrics were also new for performance wear, which Rossignol backed with a “special internal resin coating.”
“The Balmain army is now on the slopes,” Locatelli said, borrowing a favorite term of Rousteing’s to describe his community of followers.
Luxury brands are increasingly turning their attention to the winter resort business, with Chanel launching its Coco Neige line in 2018, Chloé and Fusalp teaming on a skiwear capsule in 2020, and Dior’s Kim Jones extending his collaboration with artist Peter Doig with a capsule collection of men’s skiwear launching this December.
According to Euromonitor International, retail sales of all outdoor apparel — which includes skiwear, headwear and gloves — is projected to reach $35.84 billion by 2024, up from $27.45 billion in 2020.
The Balmain + Rossignol line is to be sold at Balmain boutiques worldwide, at balmain.com and in select luxury fashion and ski boutiques.