#SuzyPFW: Balmain’s Sweet Poison

The Balmain army had relocated – away from the gilded grandeur of a Parisian mansion that had previously been the choice of designer Olivier Rousteing.

Instead, there was a concrete, low-ceiling space on the outskirts of the city, where the clothes often seemed as menacing as the surroundings. ‘Don’t touch me’ was surely the message from a short, tight sexy dress constructed, it seemed, with the surface of a porcupine in silvered pins.

But there was nothing really menacing because the designer deals in happy energy – as seen the same evening at the official opening of the new Balmain store on rue Saint-Honoré, where the sparkle level of the customers was as strong as it was for the clothes on sale.

So, who is this woman who can make even jeans sparkle?

“She is a trouble maker, she’s a rebel,” according to Olivier Rousteing. “She’s all about being loud about what she believes in – I would say – a sweet poison!”

The designer’s confidence in producing short, but not really so sweet, looks is drawn from his accurate belief that a hard sexiness is what his particular women want.

This show was the usual flourish of metallic glamour, with metal spikes to create a ‘don’t touch me’ attitude to the slices of available flesh.

Why the big change of venue and the swapping of gilt for steely metal? His reply was surprising.

“I think I feel French enough, I don’t need to pretend any more to be in a hôtel de ville or in a castle as if I am French. So, I think now it’s time for me to be just myself, not prove it to anyone.”

I asked Olivier to explain the different sections of his ‘army’ whose pert clothes included colours from black to pastels.

“The beginning is the black and white story which is really French to me,” he said. “After that pastel colours and after you have the black which is more aggressive.”

As an example of the current Balmain style, the collection was powerful – but for its specific followers. And that’s fine for Olivier.

“Voila!” said the designer. “I think my girl’s decision is different. She’s younger, she has a good attitude, she’s daring and just something different you will see. Her attitude is very different. She’s a rebel!“