Everything is coming up roses at Balmain.
Never one to play the victim, Olivier Rousteing rebounded from having 50 pieces from his spring Balmain collection stolen after a delivery truck was hijacked en route from Charles de Gaulle airport 10 days before his show. Only three boxes have been recovered so far, but remain in police possession for fingerprinting.
Backstage before the show, Rousteing said his atelier was able to reproduce about 70 percent of the missing looks, a testament to their resilience and drive, given the collection’s maximalist leanings.
Rousteing will probably take a few lumps for this spring show, and he seemed to gird himself for this backstage, aware that his colorful, flower-festooned and sculptural designs are not exactly in step with the quiet luxury trend — and the simple, utility chic gaining momentum in Paris.
“I don’t want to try to play a minimalist designer because at the end of the day, I’m not,” he said. “I think what people should be about today is the strength of identity and DNA. Because there is one thing that you shouldn’t lose, no matter the trends, is who you are.
“I would rather be hated for who I am than be loved for what I’m not. This has always been my mantra.”
This formidable designer has proven innumerable times that he’s often ahead of the pack, among the first to leverage his personal following on social media, bring back ’90s supermodels in a campaign, invite the public to participate in fashion weeks, dabble in the metaverse, and launch a Barbie capsule collection.
“Welcome to the Balmain garden,” Rousteing declared to a clutch of journalists, quoting in the same breath poet Gertrude Stein — house founder Pierre Balmain’s great friend, and the author of the sentence “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” — and Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada.”
“Florals for spring — really groundbreaking,” he deadpanned.
But Rousteing soldiers on with his exploration of the rich Balmain archives, here revisiting the founder’s affection for color blocking, floral prints and strong tailoring. He also continues to hold the torch high for French luxury and haute savoir-faire.
He opened the show with tailored looks in black and white, the jackets strong in the shoulder and blown backwards into a little peplum. Here Rousteing is on terra firma. His dresses were more hit and miss, some of the patent leather ones too stiff, too colorful and too exuberant.
Rousteing won’t apologize for any of it.
“I think this collection is about happiness,” he said. “You know, there is this thing in fashion where happiness is not the right word, because everybody feels like you’re so superficial. But what is wrong about being happy? What is wrong about spreading joy with color and prints?”
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