A new era is about to begin in the Balmain House with a new logo, Creative Director Olivier Rousteing presents in Paris a Monochromatic black looks for Fall/Winter 2019.
For the Balmain Fall ’19 men’s collection, Olivier Rousteing wanted the collection to be for everyone: “I want women to have the same power as the men and I want men to be able to discover their feminine sides… in the collection there is both men and women and you cannot necessarily tell by the clothes who was the woman and who is the man. It is kind of like there is one gender.”
“You only know my name not my story.” “Your comments I don’t mind. Hate with passion is love.” “Don’t put your blame on me.” “I’m under no obligation to reply.”
These phrases, and others similar, featured on bikers, hoodies, bags, and more in this evening’s Balmain show: What was Olivier Rousteing getting at? Under no obligation, he replied. “I think we are living in a world where everybody starts to pick a fight for no reason, just for the sake of the comments. And I think this is dangerous. Freedom is important. But the freedom of the people who just want to destroy and ruin… in France we say, “la liberté des uns s’arrête là où commence celle des autres [the freedom of some ends where that of others begins].
Being young—but not super young either—I think I understand the difference. And let’s remember that we have journalists who have the experience to actually understand the past, experience the present, and see the future. And sometimes I am scared of the non-experienced—how we can become… the cows.”
At this point, obviously, Rousteing was nodding to Suzy Menkes—the best of us, and certainly the most experienced—who had just arrived at this new out of town venue by metro (no pay-to-play fees for digital campaigns based on efficiently farmed Instagram followings for her).
Rousteing, after Ozwald Boateng at Givenchy the second creative director of color in Paris, and a man raised by (loving) adoptive white parents in a predominantly Caucasian town knows a fair bit about being on the outside looking in. He has worked his way from the fringes to the heart of the fashion world he loves, and tonight he used his collection to make a statement not only about perspective in a digital world—many of his models wore iPhones on metal-hardware leather harnesses, faced out on the chest, to express a sense of scrutiny returned—but about gender.
“I want women to have the same power as the men and I want men to be able to discover their feminine sides… in the collection there is both men and women and you cannot necessarily tell by the clothes who was the woman and who is the man. It is kind of like there is one gender.”
On the runway that translated into a long opening section, all monochrome, that played with old man and old woman evening wear—satin lapeled tuxedos and boucle jackets—by mixing up both their contexts via gender-swapping and altered their gait through the addition of sportswear and military details. On women, this produced a very effective fresh iteration of le smoking, wide shouldered and defined above the waist, but loosely tapered and sneaker-booted below: Saint Laurent touched by Yohji Yamamoto. The boys, conversely, were often clad in boucle—just French for tweed, after all—in hybridized parkas and bikers.
At the end the models wearing iPhones facing outwards came and faced the audience: boys dressed like girls dressed as girls dressed like boys watching us watching them.
Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain Army Fall/Winter 2019 @balmain.