By Miles Socha
Olivier Rousteing, age 30, has 3.4 million followers on Instagram and cheekbones for days. He also just launched a collaboration with Nike and was instrumental in helping Balmain attract a powerful new owner: Valentino parent Mayhoola for Investments, which shelled out an estimated 500 million euros, or $556 million, for the Paris fashion house.
His confidence was plain at his show on Saturday, which seemed to say to his new bosses: See what I can do? For here was a diverse collection, the men’s looks spanning everything from fleece hoodies and denim leggings to jackets and ponchos spangled and bejeweled enough for a pharaoh — and, indeed, many of the motifs had the vibe of ancient civilizations.
In the same vein as his women’s show in March, Rousteing showed a softer side in his men’s wear, parading similar wrap jackets in sand-colored suede along with long and slinky cardigans and short, comfy caftans. The women’s looks on Saturday’s runway also displayed a wider register, from the familiar va-va-voom minidresses crystallized to the hilt to a sleek, dead-simple pantsuit, the jacket belted and revealing a sliver of shoulder.
Whether or not Rousteing’s penchant for showiness and bling is your cup of tea, there was no mistaking these clothes for anything but Balmain — his Balmain. In an interview last week to discuss the acquisition, the brand’s chief executive officer Emmanuel Diemoz lauded the “optimistic” quality to the young Frenchman’s designs. One could see what he means in the designer’s upbeat spring display, full of bands of vivid color, flowing silk and twinkling crystals. The collection was inspired by beach scenes Rousteing devours on the Instagram accounts of his model friends — escapism, pure and simple.