For fall 2023, Olivier Rousteing hit the reset button at Balmain, dialing back to the origins of the house for his womenswear effort, where he zeroed in on the founder’s 1953 Jolie Madame look. While Pierre Balmain’s menswear legacy is faint, and designs largely classic, when he first launched the category in 1966 he took cues from his couture.
Rousteing repeated the gesture, reprising the pearl embroideries, polka dots and satin flourishes from his women’s collection for his tailoring-centric menswear, presented in a party format at the 120-year-old, wood-paneled Bar Anglais at the Regina Hotel.
“Back to elegance, back to timelessness,” the designer said, highlighting the complete absence of streetwear in his 44-look collection. “The future is not about just selling a pair of sneakers. The new generation is about quality and craft, because they want to buy something that is more unique.”
Rousteing noted that Balmain still sells hoodies, sweatpants and sneakers. “But I don’t think people dream about it,” he said.
His tailoring is far from classic, skewing to the flashy end of the fashion spectrum with slanted rows of buttons; vast panels of dense, crystal embroideries; draped satin sashes, and pinstripes etched with Lurex. Many of the clothes were overcharged.
For pants, there are radical flares that Rousteing favors religiously, and a more tapered, cropped option that are more approachable for men of more modest stature.
According to the press notes, the founder’s first “slim-fit, sharply cut suits reflected the cool sophistication of Saint Germain jazz artists,” a feeling reprised in that historic Regina bar, although backstage after the show, the models were grooving hard to dance music, hoisting their Champagne flutes over their heads.