Egypt seems to be having a moment in the fashion world, and Olivier Rousteing is throwing his gilded scarabs into the mix.
What a sight to behold if his sculptural, iridescent turquoise gown, with its quivering 3D scales resembling crocodile skin, were to glide across the desert at golden hour with the Great Pyramids as a backdrop?
Equally striking would be his famous friend Beyoncé rocking one of his heavily embroidered gold minidresses or bolero jackets on stage. (He memorably designed a glittering Egyptian bodysuit, cape and headdress for the singer’s 2018 Coachella performance.)
Rousteing finished his latest Egypt-inspired effort last May, but ultimately decided to withhold imagery until its retail release this month. While his pre-collection includes plenty of knits, which now account for 40 percent of Balmain’s ready-to-wear business, the designer also met customer demand for exceptional couture pieces.
Bravo to the Balmain atelier for its patience and skill embroidering micro beads so fine that the shoulders of his gowns look shaped from polished grains of sand.
There was also painstaking draping and knotting techniques applied to the T-shirts and jersey gowns, among the more accessible and affordable looks in this vast and diverse collection.
Rousteing has made his Balmain fashions increasingly autobiographical, and linked to his missions. While his runway blowout for spring 2023 during Paris Fashion Week, the one featuring Cher, put the spotlight on the designer’s sustainability ambitions, his use of rustic, natural fabrics including linen and organic cotton started with this pre-collection, employed for tailoring and languid pajama-style dressing.
His bandage dresses for spring 2022 — cathartic designs following his recovery from disfiguring burns after a fireplace explosion — were reprised as uber-chic mummy dressing. “It’s now part of my DNA,” he noted.
(He also must have still been in a Jean Paul Gaultier frame of mind following his one-off couture show for the house last January: He included a long black kilt, picked out with demonstrative top stitching.)
Rousteing noted that founder Pierre Balmain referenced Egyptian culture in the 1950s, so this ancient civilization is also part of the brand lore. “I love Egypt because there’s maximalism and minimalism, and the contrast is incredible,” he enthused.