“It had to be about music this season,” said Olivier Rousteing, who was thinking about the deaths of so many pop greats in 2016. While he may have been thinking about George Michael, Prince and David Bowie, he looked instead to Eighties rock ‘n’ roll and the heavy metal bands Bon Jovi or Guns ‘n’ Roses for this polished, high-energy collection that glittered as brightly — and sometime blindingly — as a treasure chest.
He married classic streetwear with luxury sizzle in a collection he said was all about “camouflage meets couture,” sending out olive cotton jackets and black tops encrusted with gold filigree and embellishment in the shape of flying birds or roaring, fanged tigers, images inspired by fan T-shirts. The show crescendoed with dresses that were iced with shiny faux gems and eye-popping tunic tops — jazzed up versions of what the most decadent Roman emperor would have worn.
But there was a quieter side to this collection. “I go from maximal to minimal, crazy to clean,” said the designer backstage before the show. The minimal bits included chunky ribbed knits — a major trend this season — in olive or black. They came as long, thick scarves, fringed shawls, pullovers and trousers.
Rousteing — a man whose designs shout from the rooftops of Paris — found it hard to resist turning up the volume on those knitted silhouettes too. After parading all the monochrome neutrals, he slipped a languid gold knit track suit with a filigree bird embellishment into the mix.
Even his new bags dripped with bits of gold. Rousteing introduced 200 accessories this season, including a lineup of shoes and supple leather bags with shiny hardware inspired by gold couture threads and a coin he found in Pierre Balmain’s archives, a gift from a Norwegian journalist. “I’m always looking in those archives,” said Rousteing.
The overall result was pure excess and screamed as loud as any anthem — but Rousteing clearly knows his audience. And who ever said rockers were understated?