Olivier Rousteing’s clutch of famous model friends — who easily count more Instagram followers than the population of France — have fanned the designer’s fame, and that of Balmain.


Social media surely lit up the minute Kendall Jenner appeared on the runway in a blonde wig, followed by Gigi Hadid as a brunette. It also didn’t hurt having Kris Jenner in the front row, in a full-length mink that didn’t hide her cleavage, along with her son-in-law Kanye West, though he kept his hood up and lowered his eyes toward his Yeezy 750s in the face of a wall of cameras. All that was missing was West’s wife Kim Kardashian, though her most famous asset came to mind in the padded pouf skirts that waddled down the mirrored catwalk.


Beyond these media shenanigans was — by Rousteing’s Versailles standards of Baroque — a more subdued and approachable Balmain collection, the usual brassiness blunted by a pretty pastel palette, soft textures like suede and angora — and even a few Montana-esque oversize jackets as a foil to all the corsetry and onion-shaped skirts.


He reprised the silk tassels from his pre-fall collection, swishing across the bodice of second-skin dresses paved in pearls and crystal. New elements included see-through tights and sheer lace pants, the eye diverted — slightly — from visible panty lines by three fluttering rows of ruffles down the sides of  some. More modest fare included handsome jabot blouses and jackets with gently padded peplums. He switched to a palette of black, gold and white for his filigree finale dresses — perfect for pop stars on the red carpet.


The designer said his focus on tiny waists and curvaceous hips sprang from his last campaign shoot, with original supermodels Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell.


While Rousteing has his detractors, the Balmain business seems to be firing on all cylinders. Chief executive officer Emmanuel Diemoz declined to comment on a possible sale of the company, following the granting of a mandate to Bucéphale Finance, a boutique mergers and investment firm. Diemoz did say that Balmain’s retail expansion will finally hit America, with a boutique at 100 Wooster Street in New York now scheduled to open at the end of March.

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