In the Spring 2024 Menswear Lookbook by Balmain, Olivier Rousteing reveals a captivating departure from his previous work, embracing a lighter, more down-to-earth, and chic aesthetic. While some elements shine, like the abstracted bird or flame appliqué on the ivory dinner jacket, Rousteing’s affinity for denim remains in question. However, the collection’s exuberance, streetwear influences, and intriguing accessories highlight his unique style. Balmain’s menswear defies convention, showcasing Rousteing’s talent for “masculine” styles.
Within Balmain’s Spring 2024 Menswear collection, Olivier Rousteing offers a refreshing departure from his past designs. The exuberance remains, but it takes on a lighter, more down-to-earth quality. Rousteing’s venture into chic sophistication is evident, with standout pieces like the ivory-colored dinner jacket adorned with abstracted birds or flame appliqué, a striking nod to Schiaparelli’s whimsy.
Yet, amidst the collection’s vibrant colors and overwhelming swaginess, there’s a hint of streetwear and intriguing accessories that unmistakably carry Rousteing’s signature. Balmain’s menswear, as always, challenges traditional norms. Rousteing’s inclination towards “masculine” styles finds a fitting canvas, even if it means distancing from flou.
Olivier Rousteing’s recent womenswear collection, a strikingly anomalous look emerged: a tailored jacket adorned with a cascade of embellished swallows. Little did we know, this was a subtle Easter egg hinting at an upcoming menswear collection that would swirl with these avian motifs. Backstage at the 44 Rue François 1er, the site of the founder’s original atelier, Rousteing revealed that in the 1950s, Pierre Balmain had adopted the migratory swallow as a motif for couture dresses and shoes. This fascinating history served as the inspiration for Rousteing’s venture into menswear.
Balmain regarded the swallow as a symbol of good luck, representing the unpredictability of tomorrow.
The show itself was graced by a gathering of high-profile VIPs and friends, their opulent accessories signaling their status. Rousteing described the collection as a homage to “the princes of the new world,” individuals who each possess their own kingdoms.
The collection embodied the swallow’s journey, traveling from Europe to central Africa.
It featured a fusion of souvenir jackets and varsity cardigans, occasionally touched by tailoring and adorned with vibrant tigers and dragons. Rousteing drew inspiration from the embellished jackets brought back by combat personnel from Japan, Korea, and Vietnam in the 20th century. He also reflected on Balmain’s emergence at the end of World War II, which often leads people to mistakenly associate the brand with America due to its pop culture influence.
The runway showcased models in substantially elevated Cuban heel boots or haute woven leather interpretations of the metaverse megaboots from the summer. The collection effortlessly transitioned between sporty and princely aesthetics. Tailoring featured enlarged and deconstructed sectional swallow shapes, intricately paneled in more swallow sections. These reimagined, organic, and at times retro-futuristic shapes created a captivating visual narrative. Slim-fit boot-cut pants paired with Cuban-heeled boots hinted at a languid androgynous Balmain glam that Rousteing believed appealed to both men and women.
Remarkably, this collection continued the trend of blurring gender lines, with Rousteing stating that 20% of it was designed to be unisex. The rest of the sizing was adapted to be accessible to all genders, reflecting a growing shift in fashion preferences.
Much like the previous womenswear collection, Rousteing’s design language transcended mere sophistication. He drew parallels with Gertrude Stein, Pierre Balmain’s close friend, whose words challenged traditional notions of patriarchy. Rousteing’s goal was to unite cultures in a world that often feels divided.
The collection was intentionally open to interpretation, leaving room for fluid meanings and conversations to flow, encapsulated by its murmuration of shifting ideas. Balmain’s Spring 2024 Menswear collection was a visual narrative designed to be worn out, inviting viewers to discover its stories rather than spelling them out.
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