#SuzyPFW: Balmain’s sparkling army buffs up the legacy
Why should the winter be grey and dark? For me it’s a lot of light, said Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing, as though he planned single handedly to face off the freeze, the snow and the stormy rain with one single collection.
His statement was about the Balmain Army, as Olivier calls his glamorama of gorgeous women, who marched out in dresses that glittered like fireflies, reflecting off the chandeliers as the models raced down the long aisle of the Hotel de Ville in Paris.
The mood was so upbeat that the silvered outfits, with broad shoulders and narrow trousers, were followed by others that popped with blue, pink and purple. This crazy, futuristic world had multiple filaments in a hairy dress. Only blue jeans deliberately scissored at the knees seemed to have a sense of normality.
In the seven years that Olivier has been at the helm of Balmain, he has been sneered at as vulgar and dismissed as a one-trick pony. Although horse hair was probably the only thing he has not used to make his collections crazily sexy. Rather, he tries every possible digital trick, from holograms to fluo effects, including mirrors, reflective silver, fluorescent lighting and a glitter gulch of other unrecognisable finishes.
“I’m trying to think more of the future than the past – it’s my new passion,” said Olivier. “I found my peace. So, no matter what people will say, the fashion crowd agree with what I do. You cannot please everybody. It has been seven years now at Balmain, so I am trying more – still looking at the legacy of the brand, Pierre Balmain and his heritage.”
The designer’s contribution to full-on fashion has been a success because it is made to such high standards and executed with couture techniques. On the runway the designs looked Amazonian in cut, and in-your-face in colour, especially a blue skirt and black top, both plasticised so that the shadow of the body was on view. Swirling stripes on short dresses brought a spiral of green and black around the body.
But Olivier is right that his clothes seem suited to power women, modern women and those who may be planning a journey into space.
“Join my reality!” he appealed. “Welcome to my vision of a new world made for the new generation. An electro-neon dreamscape where anything is possible.”
And so convincing is Olivier that it seemed most unlikely the Balmain founder would have been turning in his grave.