Balmain’s Fall/Winter 2014 show took place February 27 at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. This season, creative director Olivier Rousteing took Balmain down a dramatically different path. Instead of looking to the past for inspiration, he found his muse in the world around him, “the here and now” as he put it, “the world that my generation and I inhabit.” Drawing inspiration from the street, with its different cultures and diverse voices, Rousteing offered a very personal and stunningly original interpretation of safari chic, with a tribal theme and hip-hop influences. Wielding a clear vision and evident strength of mind, the young designer managed to craft these potentially disparate elements into an enticing and dramatic collection. Leather and metal radiated strength and power; cinched waists and strongly defined hourglass silhouettes transmitted ultra femininity.
Patterned peplum skirts and tops brought elegance to the safari-inspired styles, giving the illusion of a perfect feminine figure by exaggerating the hips and drawing attention to the waist. This silhouette softened and refined the bold olive green and black looks.
Animal prints, a dominant element in the show, added further nuance to Rousteing’s safari vision. Leopard print put a fun spin on tough leather looks for an exotic take on rocker chic. These edgy looks celebrate the Balmain woman of today as stylish and confident.
Intricately woven tops reminiscent of ethnic crafts were striking when paired with a strong contrasting skirt. These weaves, ranging from solid to sheer, challenged the lines between fashion and art. Dark tights contributed to the layered, covered look that Rousteing wanted for this collection: “The Balmain women, with her confident sophistication and strongly styled clothing, [doesn’t need to] show skin to draw attention.”
Colored furs paired with printed skirts made quite a statement on the runway. These dyed fox furs reinvent traditional winter fur pieces. Instead of dark neutrals for winter, lively shades of yellow and orange break the barrier between winter and summer colors. An unexpected pop of warm color in the winter represents the freedom and exuberance of the modern, free-spirited generation that Rousteing celebrated in this collection.
At eighteen, Olivier Rousteing left law school to study fashion at I’Ecole Superieure Des Arts et Techniques de la Mode in Paris. Upon graduating in 2003, he joined Roberto Cavalli, where he spent five years learning the business before moving to Balmain as assistant to creative director Christophe Decarnin. Two years later, Decarnin left the luxury house and the 26-year old Rousteing took his place, becoming one of the few black men to serve at the top of a major fashion house. See more of Rousteing’s work at the Balmain website.
Designer: Olivier Rousteing
Makeup artist: Tom Pecheux
Hair stylist: Sam McKnight
Editor in Chief: Semant Jain, Ph.D.
Article Editor: Elizabeth Nash
Fashion Writer: Sophia El-Hayek