The Balmain “army” had a particular flourish as Creative Director Olivier Rousteing marched triumphantly ahead of his female cohorts, the gilded decorations of Paris’s Palais Garnier opera house mirroring their procession.
“Let’s say that it’s a young pop collection full of happiness,” said the designer, 34. “I feel really proud to be able to talk about being half Ethiopian and half Somalian, now that I have finally found my origins. Between the pop culture that I bring, there is also ethnicity and diversity, and that’s what I love.”
https://www.instagram.com/p/B26XgganPz4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfixA complex history of adoption, revealed in a documentary called Wonder Boy, has been unravelled by the designer, who has revitalised the classic Parisian house of Balmain. His offering for Spring/Summer 2020 was a flow of pleats, geometric patterns, and the defiant exposure of a single leg, right up to the thigh.
The audience – sparkling, high-heeled boots to the fore – tapped to the music and could be imagined – Forward march! – in the vertiginous footwear and colourful tailoring: pink, yellow, orange, blue, green… And that was just the tailored denim!
“The collection is about pop; it’s about online inspirations from the early 2000s,” Rousteing said. “I have always been inspired by the ’70s and ’80s. Everyone in fashion loves to talk about vintage, but I realised that for my generation, the music had already become vintage. The end of the ’90s and the early 2000s are a huge inspiration for me.”https://www.instagram.com/p/B26Xo5en213/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfix”Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera are an American pop dream,” he explained. “When I was in my room at 12 or 13, I was listening to that music and it pushed me to become who I am. This homage to the late ‘90s and early 2000s with pop colours is really important to mention, because in fashion we talk about youth and ‘Millennials’, but let’s be proud of my generation!”
Although this show seemed overloaded with different elements, all – draped or structured – in exactly the same spirit, the designer should be commended for having introduced diversity on the Balmain runways long before the wider fashion industry.
The storied Paris house has been transformed – and would have been even more so if Kylie Jenner, part of Olivier’s Kardashian world, had not been too ill to travel to show off the Balmain make-up collection.
“I worked closely with Kylie and that actually inspired me,” Rousteing said. “She is 22 and when I played music I realised that what is vintage for me is new to her. I learned to talk about the young generation and so all the cosmetics are from working together with her.”
There is no doubt that today’s Balmain is born of the new millennium – surely the first brand in high fashion to achieve that distinction. And it seems typical of that spirit that the central message of the show was written on a T-shirt: “Own Who You Are”.