Olivier Rousteing on His New Balmain Biopic, Championing Diversity & How Virtual Reality Is the Future of Fashion

Having been appointed as Balmain’s creative director at just 25, Olivier Rousteing’s life is already the stuff of movies. And now, eight years into his meteoric tenure at the French house, he’s making a Balmain biopic.

Speaking to FN yesterday at its HQ, Rousteing revealed he is in the midst of filming a documentary. “It’s my story mixed with the Balmain story — the success of the house and the success of the boy and how it’s sometimes a struggle to get where we are,” he said.

“It’s about me coming from nowhere, how I grew up Bordeaux but also going even further back,” he teased. “I can’t say too much or they are going to kill me, but it’s going to be very interesting with a beautiful message.” The doc is due for release in spring 2019.

Olivier Rousteing on his fall '18 runway.
Olivier Rousteing on his fall ’18 runway.

Rousteing is working with the same production team behind “Valentino: ‪The Last Emperor”; however, he is humbled at any comparison. “I think my life is something of a fashion paradox,” he mused. “Doing a documentary about my life when I’m in my early 30s is like the collaboration [I did] with H&M when I had only been at the house for four years and they talked about my DNA.”

He wouldn’t divulge how the story will end, save that it won’t finish with a fashion show. “No one knows the end, as when you go for personal stories, there are factors you cannot control as you cannot control life,” he said cryptically. “What happens happens. I’m going to be as surprised as you are when you see it.”

"Black Is Not My Job" co-authors wearing Balmain for their protest on the Cannes red carpet.
“Black Is Not My Job” co-authors wearing Balmain for their protest on the Cannes red carpet.

However, he did reveal that the film has a female director — not a household name, he said, but a rising star in the industry, a massive nod to the #MeToo movement.

Rousteing is a champion of diversity in all its forms. He dressed the 16 black actresses who staged an red carpet protest at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Their object was to highlight a lack of diversity in the French film industry. “Being of color doesn’t mean it has to be your definition,” he said. “People don’t like to talk about it, but sometimes it’s good to be loud.”

The experiences of these actresses resonates with Rousteing’s own. “It’s something that has always touched me,” he said. “I’m sure that some things I did in my life had a different result because of my color. There is racism that is not expressed, and that is the worst sort.”

As for Virgil Abloh’s appointment as Louis Vuitton’s new artistic director of menswear, he couldn’t be more delighted. “I am proud and happy because he’s so talented, and it’s because of his talent they took him, not because of his color,” Rousteing said. “He talks to the new generation. He knows and understands what people want, and I am excited about that.”

"Black Is Not My Job" co-authors wearing Balmain for their protest on the Cannes red carpet.
“Black Is Not My Job” co-authors wearing Balmain for their protest on the Cannes red carpet.

“But it’s also a good thing for me that the world is showing [more] diversity. I feel the same when I see a women getting the job of a designer, as there are not enough women designers either,” Rousteing said.

While many people struggle with the changing notion of fashion today, he enjoys that challenge. For instance, Rousteing said, customers will now see the collection on social media and start requesting pieces before the buyers have even come to his showroom. “The internet is selling the clothes before they are actually out, and that’s really interesting for me,” he said.

In April, Rousteing launched his new Milan boutique with a virtual reality experience where visitors donned a VR headset for an insight into the designer’s creative process. He described it as like being inside his brain.

“Virtual reality is something we’re going to develop for every retail location,” he said, “starting with the story of how you build a collection to talking about the Balmain world and how we have grown up.”

Rousteing revealed that a VR experience will also be central to the new Balmain boutique he’s opening in Miami in November. “I feel that it is the future,” he said, “and I believe that it will change the dynamic of fashion shows. It will become a revolution.”

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