Balmain © Copyright 2019
BALMAIN SPRING-SUMMER 2020: TALKIN ‘BOUT MY GENERATION
Is my generation’s nostalgia for our turn-of-the-century childhood culture somehow less cool than fashion’s more familiar fixation on the ‘70s and “80s?’
That’s the question that has been bouncing around the Balmain studio and offices, as my team and I worked on this Spring-Summer 2020 collection.
We all know that fashion has been happy to rely on vintage inspirations over the past few decades, with designers mining the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s for statement pieces and entire runways. But, for some, styles from the late nineties and early aughts somehow seem too recent to consider for revivals — perhaps due to a feeling that those looks need a bit more of the filter of time that always helps to smooth out past eras’ fashion bumps.
Nevertheless, we’re going there this season — and Balmain’s riffing on the distinctive sounds, spirit and styles of my youth is more than just a simple exercise in nostalgia for me. I’d also like to celebrate the transformative power of that moment.
Sure, I love to be reminded of the old hits that I listened to over and over again as a kid — but now I realize that the artists behind my collection of scratched CDs were often manifestations of a new type of American Dream, resulting in a different sort of pop culture than that of previous generations.
Back then, for me — a black kid growing up in the provinces — just being able to listen to and see someone like Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child was incredibly empowering. Their success made it clear to me and others like me that you could actually “cross over” and be celebrated as a talent by all, while never having to compromise your pride in your origins or play rôles that others expected of you. Ideas that once might have been revolutionary were presented to us as simple facts — and always paired with the most addictive of melodies.
And it’s those addictive melodies — from Beyoncé, as well as artists like Britney, Christina and JLo — that are the ones associated with the looks that inspired this collection. This runway looks to the styles that my team and I remember and which we are more than ready to begin celebrating. We are happy to be able to embrace a past that we can actually remember, instead of once again turning to established references that can only be researched through archives.
Of course, this being Balmain, these turn-of-the-century explorations might look to my youth, but they rely on the masterful craftsmanship and singular tailoring skills that only a true Paris atelier is capable of. The famous Balmain embellishments have been given a decidedly modern touch for this runway, with the addition of the fine jewelry pieces that my team and I have designed, using extraordinary sustainably created diamonds from Diamond Foundry, the world’s only carbon-neutral diamond producer.
We believe that Diamond Foundry’s commitments to sustainable creation makes them the perfect partner for Balmain, complementing this house’s well-known dedication to fighting for inclusion, empowerment and the democratization of fashion. We’re proud to be the first Parisian house to work with Diamond Foundry and we look forward to including their diamonds in our upcoming runways.
A second collaboration for this collection is particularly close to my heart. As you may have already heard, Balmain recently teamed up with my friend, Kylie Jenner, for a new Kylie x Balmain Cosmetics line, which is being released today. After working closely with Kylie on that offering, it became clear to both of us that our new collection was the perfect one to rely for this runway. Of course, we had hoped to have Kylie here in Paris with us today — but the most important thing is that she takes care of herself and gets better soon.
Olivier Rousteing – 27 September 2019 Paris
Balmain© Copyright 2019
We don’t praise female trouble-makers nearly enough. Yes, of course, the fashion world adores nonconformists. We’re inspired by the greats that have beautifully rebelled artistically or sartorially. Season after season, we channel the spirit of rockers who have never given a damn and style icons with signature attitudes.
But my runway today celebrates a different, invigorating and new type of rebellious spirit, one adopted by increasing numbers of today’s young women. For inspiration, my team and I look to the self-assured women of my generation, who demand control and are not content to simply push back instead, they revel in pushing forward, (while also pushing every single button along the way).
This new attitude might have had its origins in the recent necessity of donning new defensive armor for battles that we had hoped were already won, but it has rapidly evolved, as our young rebelles grow increasingly aware of their own great power, celebrate their strong voices and demand to be heard.
This collection riffs upon that fresh, fierce resolve, that demand for control and love of bold action. And, just as today’s trouble-makers have shown us, first impressions sometimes fool those who haven’t yet wised up. So, train your eyes look past the feminine and flouncy skirts, the sensual tops and the Easter-egg pastels and focus on the underlying new spirit of this collection.
The tough-girl vibe is sometimes easily spotted and, just as often, cleverly hidden. Examine the expertly quilted leather skirts, for example, and what may at first appear to be a repeating pattern reveals itself as spiky, menacing studs. Yes, there are flowers but fashioned from patent-leather, they add a dark toughness that’s perfect for this rebellious mood.
Throughout, the mastery of the Balmain atelier is always evident. Eager to build upon learnings from couture, our craftsmen continue to push me in new directions, urging me to bend the rules that they’ve mastered so well. This runway relies on surprising deconstructions, sculptural shapes, incredible tailoring, skilled leatherwork and extreme embellishments.
I’m proud of my entire team’s efforts, as we’ve worked to ensure that our creations match the level of daring of today’s trouble-makers.
Balmain © Copyright 2017
The Show Must Go On.
It will surprise absolutely no one to hear me say that music forms an essential component of Balmain’s singular and recognizable style. For as long as I can remember, music and fashion have been completely intertwined—that’s simply how my generation grew up. I cannot conceive of one without a full helping of the other.
Knowing that, it may also not be the biggest surprise to see that today’s show follows, roughly, the classic trajectory of a rock anthem. Opening with the relaxed ease of layered knitwear that builds upon last season’s slouchy silhouette, our diverse runway steadily escalates—moving through plays of camos, denim, studded leathers, plaids and graphic black-and-whites—before finally ending with a full-throated roar that accompanies rich colors paired with an impressive offering of the type of detailed embellishments that our atelier is celebrated for.
The runway’s final crescendo underlines this collection’s debt to the spirit and style of the hardest of the ‘80s hard rockers—men who paired hyper-masculine, who-gives-a-fuck primal screams with eye-catching looks that consistently challenged accepted standards and fluidly crossed over the barriers of outdated gender norms. That daring confident style pulses through today’s runway, its soundtrack and, of course, the collection itself.
After a year marked by a series of tragic losses of those legends whose unique talents, rebellious nonconformity and incredible styles marked us all, this reminder of the liberating power of music feels particularly right for today.