BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST Olivier Rousteing has a big day in fashion and film as creative director of Balmain
Olivier Rousteing is a star. Literally. Tonight following his show, at France’s Nuit des Césars, the film Wonder Boy – which chronicles the designer’s unorthodox rise to helm one of France’s legacy’s houses which needless to say is unusual for a designer of color in Europe – is nominated for best documentary. (Only one other comparison can be made here in France and while both have a rock star status, Rousteing comes with a superior crafting ability).
The designer was even more joyous in his energy and the Fall 2020 collection which walked the runway today (all 80-plus looks) which he told The Impression backstage, was an homage to “the women from Bordeaux where I come from with the twist of Balmain. She is a woman breaking the codes of the nouvelle bourgeoisie.” Show notes went on to further explain, as does the film that the designer watched this world from the outside as a boy, with ‘endless questions regarding heritage, race, belonging and fitting in. Despite celebrating these women today, their world that was “perhaps the most bourgeois in all of France, I learned certain classes, clubs and cliques were closed off to someone who looked like me.” Their world of equestrian and hunting pursuits with its scarf prints, argyle patterns and quilted field jackets were morphed into much cooler versions for today.
Boy, have tables turned for the designer. Because everyone will want a piece of this collection. Goes without saying he included models of every shade from pale peach to ebony (and every age as Helena Christensen who walked the show in a brown sequined evening suit and Ester Canadas in black velvet Spencer jacket and pant who closed it). He celebrated that by creating latex – a one-of-a kind material from Atsuko Kudo – separates and boots made from beautiful shades of brown that became ruffled bloused, high-waisted pleated pants and sash closures blazers and worn with the thigh hi boots. Rousteing mastery of technique was seen in a group of leather draped body armor corset tops. These said sexy more than bougie.
In turning this world on its head, he showed a more visibly powerful woman than is associated with France’s preppy classic type who leans towards the demure. Sure, it’s a chain scarf print on a cozy sweater or pencil skirt or horse head on a cape but it’s been embroidered to the nth degree in flashy gold beading a la Balmain. The draping of a wool cape or silk pants ensembles added a sophisticated nuance. This collection also transgressed age especially as women of a certain age may find some of those past looks harder to return to. Not so here.
The show opened with about eight models walking in the same double-breasted navy overcoat and his new eyewear made in collaboration with Akoni which debuted today; building a mega brand has gone well under his tenure and licenses are a big part of that. It seemed very Robert Palmer girls yet now let’s call them Olivier Rousteing girls. Whether or not he takes home a César tonight, Rousteing is already a winner.
Editor’s Note: Wonder Boy did not win for best documentary. The award went to M de Yolande Zauberman.