I might not be a Balmain kind of person, but I can definitely appreciate it, when Olivier Rousteing does something intriguing with it. A lot happened on the spring-summer 2023 runway, from a haute couture capsule offering to Cher closing the event. Over-saturated with prints featuring (very naked) Renaissance painting and a heavy dose of leather weaving and jersey draping, it was clear that Rousteing was still high on his Jean Paul Gaultier collaboration we’ve seen this summer (by the way, I can’t wait to see what Haider Ackermann will cook up for the brand in a couple of months!). But what truly sparked my attention in this Balmain outing was the melancholic, even dystopian mood behind it – and also it’s sustainability aspect. “We all saw climate change this summer. We all saw fires around the world. And coming back with a show in September, thinking about whether our pants are going to be high-waisted or low-waisted – it seems a bit futile to me.” Dressed like a samurai messiah, Rousteing told the press backstage that while he could not claim this collection was 100 per cent sustainable, he’d used fabrics made of paper, of banana, and of wicker (in the couture) to be as much so as possible. He added: “I have friends who tell me they don’t want to have kids, because what will our world be tomorrow? And at the end of the day it’s not about taste. It’s not about aesthetics.” When faced with the hardest proposition – that all fashion is essentially unsustainable for its inherent ephemerality – he convincingly riposted that his ongoing project is to radicalize his supply chain for the better. So props to him.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
“This show is an open letter to Jean Paul, an open letter of love,” Olivier Rousteing announced in the Gaultier studio before the unveiling of the antic collection that Gaultier had invited him to design as the third iteration of the project that hands the reins of his couture house to a different designer each season. When the two designers first met to discuss the project four months ago, and right after Rousteing had presented his autumn-winter Balmain collection, he confided to Jean Paul Gaultier: “You’re my inspiration. And you broke so many boundaries for me as a kid.” Dressed backstage in a matelot striped top and an asymmetric kilt, Rousteing had clearly taken the brief very seriously. “Jean Paul wrote a fashion book with many chapters,” Rousteing explained. “And the reality is that you need to understand what chapter from Jean Paul is closer to you and the emotions that you obviously are more into.” For Rousteing, this meant a series of very personal snapshots. A memory of his father with Gaultier’s iconic Le Male fragrance in its tin can casing, for instance, or Madonna dressed by Gaultier in a nipple-freeing ensemble for a 1992 amfAR gala. “If you think about that today, we cannot [go there],” Rousteing noted, and in fact his iteration featured trompe l’oeil exposed breasts. “So he was ahead of his time about freedom of expression. Today, we talk about inclusivity, we talk about diversity, we talk about breaking boundaries, we talk about no binaries, no gender. Obviously, Jean Paul was the first one to do it.” Rousteing opened his show with menswear, inspired by the tattoo collection of 1994 that he considers a celebration of diversity, and then broke into one statement womenswear piece after another, playing on the Gaultier themes of corsetry, repurposed denim, and Breton fishermen’s sweaters, among others, many of the looks teetering on platform heels inspired by those tin cans.
And Rousteing reveled in the craftsmanship of Gaultier’s ateliers. In homage, there were garments fashioned from a dressmaker’s tape measures, a heart-shaped pin cushion bodice, and gloves with thimbles for finger tips. And noting the designer’s passion for the liquid draperies of Madame Grès (and the dressmaking genius who worked for her and now for Gaultier), Rousteing worked her iconic techniques into some looks that included a sweeping corseted pink sweatshirt that ballooned into an opera coat in back and draped into a siren skirt in front. Meanwhile, what appeared to be a woven menswear pinstripe was actually an illusion created with insertions of white crepe – a process that took 600 hours. Rousteing revisited Gaultier’s feathery interpretation of matelot stripes, another iteration of the Breton sweater that morphed into a Watteau train in back. In a further celebration of the craftsmanship of the house, the running order of the show listed each premiere main and modeliste responsible for the various elements of each look next to its description. Rousteing stepped out of the studios, however, to create a brace of molded glass bodices made by the expert responsible for the stained glass windows of Notre Dame, no less. Gaultier himself had wanted the collection to be a complete surprise. When the show opened with a soundtrack mashup of Gaultier himself expressing his design ideas to various media outlets through the years, he blushed bright pink. By the end of the show he was beaming. “Zat was fantastic!” he declared, “He took my things and then did it his way – and the technique – fab, fab, fab!”
Mondrian-ish prints. Freeing the nipple. Parisian glamour. Sexy. Olivier Rousteing of Balmain showed a chic and brave collection, making the models look ultra attactive and provocative (if you may say, anything is still provocative in today’s fashion). For a show that was about “pushing the boundaries of sex,” as Rousteing bluntly put it, it didn’t always mean sexy with safe use. The issue, in most cases, was the fabric. As eye-catching as allover crystals can be, they’re hard to slink in—harder still, we imagine, to sit down in. The collection felt not really looking into the future woman, but into the past, where showgirls had their time to shine. However, the sheer tops with bold stripes looked good, but surely not real.
There is a new fight between two trends in Paris! Simple or Kitsch? Strong colours or beige and creme? Flowers, jewels, some kind of LOVE signs or shirling and leather? In this post I will cover four collections- Lanvin and Balmain that are classified as kitsch and Rick Owens and Nina Ricci as neutral and simple. So lets start maybe with something calm for eye, Nina Ricci. Katia and Marielle Labèque performed “Two Movements for Two Pianos” by Philip Glass on side by side grand pianos in the middle of a huge runway covered with old red carpets, giving a romantic feeling. Indeed, the collection was as romantic as the music that these two artists produced!The collection was a bit sporty but still very elegant. Everything was kept in simple colours hat are still eye caching- red, white, beige and black! My favourite look was for sure the dress with a bustier with mink fur on the top that gave a slightly different look!Now it’s the time for other collection are pretty liked, and was very simple in lines and cuts, Rick Owens. These hilarious hairstyles the models had were so great! I think that Owens is always winning with other designers, with we are taliking about hairstyles. Rick used a lot of creme and white shirling fur on jackets and coats. There were some minimalistic column like silk dresses, ruffles on tops, leather gloves. But it wasn’t, you know, much of it. Rick Owens showed this season a sensitive beauty of ready-to-weat clothes!And now it’s the time for kitsch in Paris. I think, Alber Elbaz was sick at the moment of designing the collection. Everything was so not matching. Without a form. A fail! Why did the Lanvin designer, put these horrible necklaces with hearts and pearls with a horrible signs like “YOU” or “LOVE” or something else? How is it possible to spoil a nice long silk beige dress with some kind of a furry scarf and jewellry that looked like from a petrol station? Why? It wasn’t even luxury. It was passe. Sorry Alber Elbaz, but that was a very poor collection. P.S. What the hell did these bugs were doing on a ruffled top?(This post is going to end soon :D) Balmain with Olivier Rousteing did a good job. Let’s say it straight- Balmain can’t be easy and minimalistic. It should be always luxury, ornamental and kitsch! This time Olivier chose new colours like emerals, red and violet. Most of clothes were velvet and had a really decorated details. I really liked all the structured tops and skirts. I liked the green suede jacket that M. Frackowiak wore. And the big belts were really eye catching! It was altogether sexy and sophisticated, just as it should be at Balmain! I’m clapping! So after these four collections I should say that I loved Nina Ricci and Balmain. Rick Owens was good, but a bit classy (for Rick of course) and Lanvin was horrible… So there is 2-2 for both of these categories! As we know from New York, Milan and london, luxury and ornamental clothing is back for good, but a little bit of minimalism is always the best!