Balmain’s return to Couture
Oliver Rousteing’s maiden couture collection will be showcased this month in Paris. The last haute couture production by the French fashion house was 16 years ago, in 2002 by Oscar De La Renta. Fashion insiders and critics are waiting with bated breath to witness this landmark show as the brand traces back its way to the highest end of the fashion spectrum.
Since the legendary Yves Saint Laurent, Oliver Rousteing is the youngest creative director in Paris – appointed at the helm of Balmain in 2011 at the age of 24. Having worked with Roberto Cavalli, Rousteing was hired as the women’s ready-to-wear designer in 2009, and worked very closely with Balmain’s then creative director Christophe Decarnin. In his successful nine-year tenure, Rousteing has taken the label onto unchartered territories, successfully revamping and repositioning the brand with a keen focus on social media and the digitally savvy millennials.
His most recent triumphs include the CGI model-led diverse digital campaign for Pre-Fall 2018, the creation of two iconic wardrobes for Beyoncé’s Coachella set last year, and Rousteing’s brainchild, the hugely popular #BalmainArmy continues to celebrate an unfettered sense of inclusion. The Balmain Army is a clique of internationally famous ‘It’ girls including Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and various other aspirational influencers who are often spotted in limited edition styles. In 2015, Rousteing spearheaded a Balmain’s first collaboration with an affordable RTW brand – H&M, which sold out almost instantly, becoming one of the retailer’s most-wanted designer collections. In May 2017, Rousteing made his first foray into the world of cosmetics through a partnership with L’Oreal Paris. The designer launched a collection of 12 Balmain lipsticks designed by him and inspired by three key elements: couture, modernity and diversity.
The brand continues its growth trajectory with a bold spirit of adventure, the designer has now set his eyes on Haute Couture announcing that he will be debuting his first collection for the house in January 2019.
With an aim to bring back the Parisian DNA of the brand, following ‘44 François Premier’, a Balmain eveningwear collection launched earlier last year, this couture comeback is a logical next step towards honouring the runway roots of the brand. While much of Rousteing’s work has helped Balmain reach a younger demographic and become more accessible, it will be interesting to see how he now navigates the opposite end of the design spectrum.