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Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing Reveals the “Biggest Luxury” in Fashion

It's not what you think

To see the entire Balmain Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear collection, click here

Olivier Rousteing has been at Balmain seven years now, and he’s feeling quite grown-up. “When I was younger, I was looking a lot at the heritage and the legacy of the house,” he said backstage after his Fall 2018 show. “I looked at the past a lot, I looked at the heritage of Mssr. Pierre Balmain, but now, after seven years, it’s all about the future, and that’s what this collection was about.” That assertion was applicable on two levels—on the one hand, Rousteing wanted to further develop his own Balmain language, one that moved away from the embellishment and embroidery of the past and instead explored the sexed-up Balmain aesthetic with, as he put it, “different materials and techniques that I haven’t used before,” namely holographic PVC, which, popping up everywhere from Calvin Klein to Maison Margiela, is so in this season (and last season, actually, thanks to Karl Lagerfeld’s plastic-coated Chanel outing). The materials (in addition to plastic, there were metallic leathers and knitwear, neon crystals, sheer tulle, and destroyed denim, the latter of which was sometimes coated in plastic) created a futuristic vibe. It was somewhere between ’60s space age (some plastic looks recalled Courrèges, while a silver ensemble made of paillettes and crystal echoed the work of Paco Rabanne), one part Blade Runner, and one part Mad Max, a film with which Rousteing admits to being “obsessed,” and used for the basis of his Fall 2018 menswear lineup. The ’80s also played a role here, evidenced by big shoulders and the soundtrack—remixed versions of “Tainted Love,” “Died in Your Arms,” and “Take on Me”—had guests dancing in their seats.

Rousteing also touched on diversity, which he feels has become a tenet of his Balmain. “The reality of Balmain is about [having] so many different kinds of woman, so much diversity, different shapes of women, different ages. Balmain is an inclusive brand, not exclusive, and sometimes I feel that fashion is really exclusive. It was a strong show with a lot of girls—a lot of different girls, but still really confident,” he said of this season’s Balmain Army, which was noticeably devoid of Insta-girls and included models Natasha Poly, Dilone, Soo Joo Park, and Grace Bol, to name a few (so, not really “shape” diverse, but still). “I love that my girls have that power to be fierce,” he said, adding,” This woman is like a Mad Max from the future. She’s a warrior, she’s powerful, she’s not scared, she’s daring, and she’s breaking boundaries.” 

At the end of the show, Rousteing strutted out in front of his holographic band of beauties, and it was clear he was pleased with the new direction he’d proposed. “I started at 24 years old,” he said. “I’ve been criticized, I’ve been loved, I’ve been hated, and [there have been] a lot of comments about me. But now I’m in my 30s and I’m just like, I want to be myself. I wake up every morning being happy and the biggest luxury in fashion right now is being free.” 

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