#SuzyPFW On Grecian Lines: Balmain Offers A New Geometry

Olivier Rousteing was short and succinct about his summer 2019 collection – both the different sections that ranged from shimmering silver surfaces, to a new arch shape whirling across the shoulders. Add on simple, deliberately worn blue jeans.

I asked for his explanation as he stood backstage in his top-to-toe white sweater and trousers reeling off his vision.

“Three words: Paris, Egypt, origins – going back to the source: the Pyramid of the Louvre. And asking: ‘what is Paris?’ Sometimes the obsession about being French is too much. History shows us that origins, mixed-race and ethnicity – and the beauty of our city – is made with a lot of things that come from outside.”

He continued: “About being a designer today, I would say it’s about sculpting, tailoring, cutting – and that’s what I try to do.”

So many answers to one question, but all the more direct since the designer himself is mixed-race and so many of his clients, dressed in shimmering outfits at 11.00 in the morning, are from countries distant to France.

The result was purposeful and powerful. At a time when the behaviour of male to female is so much discussed, Rousteing deals entirely in super-strong women.

Out they came in white robes with something metallic at the bust, or the Greek effect of a white pleated top cut on the round. That brought a new softness to Balmain’s sometimes aggressive body-conscious cutting.

The show started with all-white, misty outfits, but soon stiffened with pleats and shining with silver additions. The pleats were engineered with compass accuracy that appeared throughout the show. Other outfits were a denim jacket and trousers layered with thick white paint. Or there were hieroglyphics as a pattern on a black and white top – those prints cresting an entire sector.

Like a theatrical effect of changing subjects, Rousteing moved on to the jeans – white and multi washed. Whether recycled or ripped pieces, they tended to be backed up with shiny silver.

There were so many different concepts, from geometric triangles to body-scanning contours, the designer received a roar of applause for his imagination, skill and daring to break the codes of familiar French chic.