Olivier Rousteing threw a curve ball for his inaugural couture show, held in the brand’s soon-to-open flagship on Rue Saint-Honoré.
Leaving reality and wearability to his main line, the designer, who has been experimenting with couture shapes of late, here pushed it to the extreme with a run of out-there outfits worthy of Lady Gaga.
With its focus on geometric shapes and exaggerated, jutting sprays of pleated and folded fabric, the collection paid homage to Paris and house founder Pierre Balmain, according to Rousteing. But at times, it felt more Pierre Cardin or Roman couturier Roberto Capucci, revisited through an Eighties lens: Cue all the washed denim, graffiti and pastel watercolor effects.
Even if couture is about fantasy, some shapes were unwieldy, and even goofy: A stiff pearl-shaped miniskirt, anyone? But strip off the white body makeup and the sculptural accoutrements and the signature Balmain look came through.
They included a short white dress embroidered with pearls and glass beads resembling water drops, and a bustier worn with destroyed, faded jeans with fishnet details and overloaded with dense accumulations of fixed and swinging pearls. Those fancy pants will likely catch the eye of some of the brand’s famous, stage-loving followers.
Best embodying Rousteing’s “21st-century vision” of couture was a squarish top and lean pants entirely covered in coated white feathers, which was otherworldly, and a sculptural dress with a long tulip skirt made of dense pink tulle frills with a molded metallic anatomical bustier.
“It’s just good to challenge myself. Sometimes fashion loves putting people in a box. I’m obsessed with embroideries…but I can do cuts, and my cuts can be as maximalist as my embroideries,” said Rousteing, who nonetheless used more than a million Swarovski crystal pearls, stones and beads on the looks.
While it is sure to be divisive, here was a bold couture debut for the designer who for the finale came bounding down the runway, Tigger-like, with an enraptured Juliette Binoche giving it a standing ovation.