Oliver Rousteing 30 years old is now years creative director at Balmain — which makes him the fourth-longest employed shooter in the all 40-plus luxury fashion industry (excluding jewellery). Despite his experience, however, Rousteing’s youthful nature allows him to constantly adjust his output so as not to fall into second-album syndrome.
This extensive pre-fall collection for men and women is a design conversation along two main lines. The first engages with Rousteing’s own history with the brand, while the second repeats the history of its founder, Pierre Balmain. Sculptural womenswear and menswear are marked by structural facades of military uniform and crystal, echoing the lavish style of directional luxury that Rousteing developed in his house-revived atelier. The height of the platform signifies Rousteing’s continued ambition for the brand, while the restored shoulder pads appear to be a generous nod to Christophe Decarnin, who allowed Rousteing to wear his shoes.
Platforms lead to flare, which inevitably leads to the decade when the brand’s founder starts reducing the products he designs. Rousteing pushes the boundaries of 1940 suiting into a fashion that’s almost sporty—yet luxurious—exploring the silhouette of the body defined by buttons and seams. Dresses are made from large squares of silk that are artfully tucked, pinned and draped to echo Pierre’s own adventures in tweed. Meanwhile, cascading bows in sculptural shapes recall the founder’s early post-Art Deco background.
Walking with Rousteing through the house’s two-story showroom, which is packed with quick-change models and headphone-clad, fast-talking reps, we go from vintage skiwear to new Handbags, to the upcoming category. The designer hasn’t lost his energy; his first decade at the label may prove to be nothing more than a distraction for him.
Pierre Balmain has been seriously designing late1940 in his own house since late1940, a 30 year. Already over 10 years, Rousteing will match the founder’s longevity – if he stays – when he is in 50 early middle age 2040. You can see him doing it, Balmain clothes never get old while always feeling connected to the history of owning his label.