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Olivier Rousteing Talks his Nirvana-Inspired Balmain Collection

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Olivier Rousteing Talks his Nirvana-Inspired Balmain Collection

"I think I am the rebel of fashion"

BY KATHARINE K. ZARRELLA

NEWS  -  MARCH 03

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Photo: firstVIEW

• Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing once again looked to music for inspiration this season, specifically citing Kurt Cobain and Nirvana as his primary muses. “What I love about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana is the fact that they were no limits—rebellion forever. And legendary as well. I love that feeling of not being scared,” explained Rousteing post-show. 

• Would Cobain have approved of Rousteing’s opulent looks in fur, fringe, hand-beading, velvet, croc, and leather? Unlikely. But that’s not really the point, is it? No, it’s more that mood of fighting against the norm, of speaking to one’s generation. In that sense, Rousteing’s collection was right on point. 

• “I think I am the rebel of fashion,” the designer told me. “I don’t think I have the talent of Kurt Cobain or Nirvana—this is for sure. But I think that everything I do is seen as controversial, but it’s not for me, because I do things naturally. When everybody goes minimal, I go maximal. It’s not that I want to go against something, I just believe in women—in the power of women, those women who are not scared of confidence and power and sexiness.”

• The craftsmanship here was insanely impressive. A myriad of textures could be seen fused together on one garment, and one could tell the embellishments were painstakingly hand done from a mile away. And while this extravagant fusion must have taken a great deal of skill, it sometimes felt like a bit much, especially when it came to the animal prints and the furs. 

• But it seems that Rousteing—and, for that matter, his client—doesn’t care much about that. And that’s an admirable quality. “It's not cool to talk about minimal or maximal—it’s not modern,” Rousteing said. “I think what is cool today is that there are no trends anymore. It's all about every designer being different and they are going to express a different world because they are different. Let's keep it like that for the next few years because fashion will be more interesting, magazines will be more interesting, business will be more interesting.” No doubt, Rousteing is doing his part in that respect. 

• One tunic crafted from beaded mesh was a real standout, as were the smartly layered black ensembles done in loose gauge knit and crocodile. These pieces continued an experiment Rousteing first tried in his Fall 2017 menswear outing, and marked a new foray into maturity. “I turned 31 a few months ago,” Rousteing said, “and when I create a collection, I grow up as a person, as a designer. I think this collection was all about pushing my boundaries, because I’ve never used so many textures, so many layers, so many different shapes and silhouettes. And it was more relaxed at the same time—less body-conscious. I feel like it was a big challenge for me, as a designer, to push myself to this level.” 

• Rousteing often gets pegged as a designer for outlandish musicians and party girls. And that’s something he’s very much aware of. But this season, he made a point of noting that his grunge-gone-glam looks aren’t just meant for performances and wild nights out. “I don’t see any of these dresses party dresses. I think they are more like armor—something to wear when you’re fighting. They’re clothes for survivors. I think women today are fighting for so many reasons,” he added. “To have more power, to be respected, to be stronger, and I think this collection is for women who are not scared to take a risk. These are strong, powerful amazons.” 

• Indeed, one would need to be fearless in their individuality to pull of most of Balmain’s Fall ensembles top-to-toe, but one thing’s for certain—this woman will stand out, and she is not to be messed with.

See every look from the Balmain Fall 2017 collection here.

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