Ten years in the past nearly to the day, Olivier Rousteing stepped into the highlight when he offered his first runway assortment as artistic director of Balmain. He was solely 25, having labored beneath his predecessor, Christophe Decarnin, for a few years. However he got here in with a plan: to mine the French luxurious model’s DNA and faucet into the basics of what had made the home that Pierre Balmain constructed what it’s, whereas concurrently pushing it in the direction of the web age and cultivating a brand-new viewers on social media.
As this was occurring, the revolving door on the very prime of the artistic ladder in style began spinning quicker, which means, increasingly more typically, designers’ tenures on the main homes grew to become shorter. Many did not keep on for greater than three years. For Rousteing to now be celebrating a full decade at Balmain, it isn’t simply uncommon — it is spectacular, particularly when you think about what he is achieved.
Over time, Rousteing has managed to innovate on the concepts which have introduced him business success (prefer it or not, the attractive, ornate, body-hugging aesthetic he is pushed has resonated past the Kardashian-Jenner household and trickled down the market) whereas repeatedly bringing new ones to the desk. He is established and nurtured relationships with a number of the most influential celebrities on the planet (not many designers can rely on Beyoncé record a special message to play over the live stream of their fashion show), while becoming a massively influential figure himself. He remains one of the few Black designers at the helm of a global fashion brand, while advocating for diversity across the industry. All this to say: His Spring 2022 show for Balmain, held Wednesday night during Paris Fashion Week, was a big deal.
To commemorate the anniversary, Rousteing does run through some of his greatest hits from his time at Balmain. (Ten years, that’s a lot of collections — especially when you factor in menswear, resort, pre-fall and haute couture.) “When I was designing some of the earliest of these, as an occasionally overwhelmed twenty-something, I definitely would have laughed if someone would have told me that someday I’d be showing [these looks] as part of my retrospective,” he wrote in the show notes. “But at this moment, I can see that they are milestones of the journey that brought me to where we are now, in 2021.”
The opening looks reflect a lot of the trends we’re seeing across the spring collections, like an emphasis on formfitting silhouettes and an embrace of strategic cutouts. There are also some biographical elements woven in, like bands, weaves and straps that mimic the looks of bandages and gauze wraps, as Rousteing spent a lot of the last year recovering from a burn accident. (“By embracing that previous pain and celebrating the power of healing, somehow I’ve been able to translate them into beautiful components of my designs,” he explained.)
As the line rolls on, we see new riffs on the confident, “main character” pieces and techniques that have defined Rousteing’s Balmain: sharp blazers, short skirts, long sleeves, tailored separates and oversized outerwear featuring fine quilting, intricate paneling, all-over embellishments and lots of beading. The color palette is pretty restrained, limited mostly to black, white, red and light brown with the occasional gold accent, so the focus remains on the finishes on each garment.
Rousteing is also an expert showman, and the Balmain Spring 2022 show delivered. Firstly, it was held a concert venue and modeled after a music festival (the brand’s second), with performances from Doja Cat and Franz Ferdinand. Then, he brought out a star lineup of supermodels — including some who hadn’t walked the runway in years — to close out the show: Naomi Campbell, Milla Jovovich, Mariacarla Boscono, Imaan Hammam, Cindy Bruna, Precious Lee, Nadège du Bospertus and Carla Bruni among them.
“When the door opened for me in 2011, I was not the most expected candidate for a creative director,” Rousteing reflected. “Since then, I have been determined to use this opportunity and position to keep pushing for further change. I’ve worked to ensure that Balmain’s presentations, workspaces and campaigns reflect the true diverse beauty of today’s world. And runways, which were once limited to just a lucky few of fashion insiders, are now open to more and more fashion lovers.”
He also promised that there’s more to come as he enters his second decade at the house: “Over the next ten years, I pledge to continue to push for more inclusion, more democracy and more openness. Here’s to the next decade of sharing our joy-filled signature mix of fashion and music with more and more of those who wish to enter into the Balmain universe.”
See the full Balmain Spring 2022 collection in the gallery, below.