Olivier Rousteing is living the dream: at 32, he heads a historic French fashion house, counts celebrities like Kim Kardashian among his close friends, and has a “Balmain army” of fans, including his 4.7 million followers on Instagram.
That he has polarized opinion along the way is no secret, but Rousteing is OK with that. His fall collection saw him take off in a new direction with a lineup so shimmering, it almost upstaged the gilded ballroom at Paris City Hall where the show was held.
The designer, who never met a gold braid he didn’t like, supplanted embellishment this season with high-shine surface effects. Silver foil, PVC, holographic sequins, liquid-look organza and crystal mesh were just some of the materials he deployed in his quest for sparkle. “It’s a bit the story of my life, in a way, just trying to look for the sky,” he mused backstage.
The reflective looks had iPhone cameras working overtime to compensate for the glare. A glistening pink coat with raw edges was paired with a mermaid sequin top, while an oversized T-shirt with a cellophane print topped a plastic shower curtain skirt and yellow PVC thigh-high boots.
Rousteing worked trouser suits with sharp-shouldered jackets and bouffant pants; paired glittery tops with shredded jeans; and unleashed a neon palette on tight little dresses with draped details. He offered a more down-to-earth take on the look with silver-and-black striped tops, like the one he wore to take his bow.
The designer noted it’s been seven years since he was named creative director of the house — an eternity in fashion years.
“Today, when you hear the name Balmain in songs, when you see the craziness around the collaborations I’ve done, I feel like the Balmain story now talks to the new generation,” he said. “A lot of things have happened, but with this [collection], I feel more confident and I feel more peaceful with myself.”
Rousteing has been tasked with opening up Balmain to a wider audience, as part of its next growth phase under Qatari owner Mayhoola, and this season, anyone can join the party. Under the hashtag #JoinMyReality, Snapchat users are invited to download a filter with magical slimming and contouring effects — haters be damned.