“The beauty of Egypt is its minimalism and minimalism,” says Olivier Rousteing. The French designer interpreted this starting point with great vigor in a collection full of overt, highly iconic references to his ancient source material – Tutankhamun’s mask, mummy’s Burial materials, scarabs, and a viper that Cleopatra cradled in his arms — and a more restrained exchange about his own authorship. Rousteing said it has become a hallmark of his collection since he bandaged up after suffering a severe burn, and it was featured in many stretchy, sexy (and slightly “scary”) dresses. But the bandage’s relationship to stripes, which in France is Breton, is a pillar of national identity that harks back mesmerizingly to the designer’s origin story.
The blue and gold Tutankhamun artwork echoes the circumstances Rousteing was brought up in, who was adopted and whose lineage was not known until recently. “My parents always thought I was Egyptian,” he said. “So in a sense, it’s always been part of my DNA.” Rouesting is honored to have a truly personal connection in a collection that’s certainly best presented in the shadow of the pyramid, but for arbitrary reasons isn’t. It’s a shame, but the product still fully reflects the thinking behind the design.
The designer says his clients are increasingly drawn to personalized, studio-chic pieces – “like art” – in order to produce one-off warm feeling. Key examples here included a wooden pointy dress with a jersey lining, and shimmering metallic animal pieces. The beautiful oyster-shaped cocoon was one of the many blown kisses of the brand’s couture founder.
Rousteing’s recent obsession with platforms has elevated many of the looks here. What is the score? “Well, you know, the sky is the limit and we all want to touch it. But sometimes you need to be careful because you can get too close to the sun and you might burn your wings.” Ah, Icarus in high heels. Rousteing and Balmain continued to fly.