In 2011, a 25-year-old Olivier Rousteing presented his first collection as creative director for the longstanding and legendary brand Balmain. This was a momentous occasion not only because, at this time, he was largely unknown, but also because he became the first Black person to lead a historic French house. Initially, Rousteing was the subject of scathing reviews, with critics labelling his collections as tasteless, vulgar, and tacky. However, season after season, he persevered, and has since built Balmain into one of the most in-demand, glamorous, and cool brands on the current fashion landscape.
For this monumental 114-look collection, Rousteing played to his strengths and presented garments that were sexy, gilded, and altogether empowering. The initial 97 looks reworked the traditional Balmain playbook of-today, as it consisted of looks that were simultaneously structured and slinky. A black gown with a chunky chain strap that exposed the right side of the model’s body and red off-the shoulder sheer bodycon dress epitomized sensuality. At the same time, an oversized white suit with the Balmain logo and a black blazer bodysuit with a wide gold belt communicated a sense of strength and power.
Building upon the popularity of his molded leather bodices from his last collection, Rousteing showcased a few new styles that spoke to his remarkable pension for innovation. For example, a top appeared in the form of a giant gold chain, with the links positioned horizontally, covering the model’s top half in a halter style. Likewise, a white bodice emerged and almost appeared to be made of a ceramic material, but it was mind-bendingly folded and ruched as if it were constructed out of real fabric.
However, the final 17 looks of the show were, for lack of a better term, show-stopping. Not only were they donned by some of the most legendary super models of the 90s and today, including Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Adut Akech, Iman Haammam, and Mariacarla Boscono, but they honored some of Rousteing’s most iconic looks from the past ten years. A few featured his signature embellishment, in all of its extravagant and intricate glory, while others saw his gilded weaving make a stunning reemergence. All-in-all, they all conveyed an overwhelming sense of unabashed luxury and regality, which Rousteing has made integral to the aesthetic of his Balmain.
Throughout the show, as models strutted down the runway to a soundtrack featuring the likes of Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, its message became increasingly clear: Balmain is the brand for the sexy and the strong. Over the past ten years, Rousteing has transformed the established French house into the ideal label for the confident woman of today who needs a wardrobe that communicates an aura of power and presence. Needless to say, he has proven himself to be an expert and fearless commander of the Balmain Army for both the present-day and for many more years to come.
Click through see every look from the Balmain Spring/Summer 2022 collection.END
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