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Balmain RESORT 2021

It’s no secret to Olivier Rousteing’s 6 million followers that the digital-scape is his runway, lockdown or no. “When you work in fashion, you’re creating a world,” the designer commented. His Instagram bio exclaims, “This Is My Reality!”



Now, of course, we’re all in the same boat. Like many of his peers, the designer had to forge a new, “together-apart” process, sketching fluorescent lines on a flurry of photos in WhatsApp groups, tweaking toiles on Zoom, and checking in as Petites mains embroidered pieces at home in Italy. Like virtually everyone, he spent off-hours going overboard on streaming.

Anyone who’s keeping up has already gotten a glimpse of what happened next. A stylized logo, as well as the ’60s/’70s-era clutch-slash-shopper it originally came on, have resurfaced for a new generation. Just this morning, a video of the new “chocolate bar” bag clocked nearly 100,000 views in a matter of hours.


To showcase menswear, Rousteing invited a handful of “Balmain army” friends to style themselves in his latest looks. The Colombian megastar Maluma and actors Rome Flynn, Nicholas Galitzine, Jorge López, and Jon Kortajarena all came on board, choosing jackets that would look at home on Miami Vice, paired with Vichy checks, or polka dots inspired by Julia Roberts’s famous dress in Pretty Woman (the motif was scaled down for men, and up for women). Elsewhere, a mash-up of graphics and colour on T-shirts, jackets, and sequined cocktail dresses nodded to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sherbet denim, militaria in hot colours, and a vista did entirely in sunset-hued-thread embroidery brought to mind the early days of MTV. The heavily encrusted bustiers and lapels will send new-generation Dynasty types into overdrive.

California dreams aside, the designer has parlayed this collection (and the look book shoot, at a manor house in Normandy) into a way of re-broaching old questions that, in the light of now, have new urgency. Environmental responsibility is one, and from resort’s small debut effort he plans to expand to a 50% sustainable collection for spring 2021 (new kinds of embroidery and sequins included). Examining the house’s DNA is another: Seventy-five years ago, Balmain was founded to cater to a high-society clientele in a different postcrisis context. Which, of course, raises the question of identity. Rousteing opted to stick to his home turf but suggested that a reckoning may be in the works for that abiding (and lucrative) myth of French fashion, the Parisienne.

France likes to give lessons in fashion,” he offered, choosing his words gingerly. “Its aesthetic is very codified, the icons are always the same, and it doesn’t give any space to this new world we are building. We need to be careful about the world we want to live in. I think we should try to understand who the Parisienne is today. We need to open the doors more.” Change, he hinted, is on the near horizon. No doubt the world will be watching. (vogue.com)


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