“It’s like that infinite summer that I’ve been dreaming of,” said Olivier Rousteing of his Balmain resort ‘19 collection. All aqueous, sequined sunsets, and pearl embellishments charged with whisper-thin, disco metallics — it’s as mercurial and engaging as the designer himself.
Yesterday at his house’s Paris HQ, the Balmain creative director gave FN a tour of the collection’s epic footwear.
Pièces de résistance were his famous Balmain cuissard boots. They came in metallic foil, palm-printed jacquard, an exquisite wooden mosaic construction, recalling marquetry, and with a graphic black and white Balmain logo.
He dubbed this mix of traditional and cutting edge fabrications, echoed in the ready-to-wear, “a paradox collection, old traditional France mixed with my future and how I see Balmain in years to come.”
The foiled versions recalled Quality Street candies. They matched a dramatic ruched mini dress the color of the confectionary brand’s Coconut Éclair. Said dress was made from a special wearable paper fused with a printed foil.
The mosaic boots (there’s a matching dress that’s lined in muslin and light as air) are Rousteing’s favorite because they best mirror the couture approach he’s applied to the collection.
Elsewhere, sock boot / sandal hybrids were done in a mosaic of broken mirror shards while ankle boots in sand-colored suede featured bezel-shaped metal studs. “I call them my Burning Man shoes,” he said. “The concept is infinite night where anything can happen; it’s the warrior factor mixed with the more feminine side of the house aesthetic.”
Chunky heels were inset with a floating version of that Balmain house code, the coin, given the Rousteing treatment so it resembled a miniature disco ball while androgynous buckled shoe boots came with a low Western style heel.
“I call these the flat shoes,” he laughed. “Though they’re not actually flat, they’re only as high as the ones I’m wearing.” For the record, he is working a good two inches with a skinny black jean. He shot all the mini dresses in his campaign with this model, he said: “I love the concept of breaking the silhouette that I’m known for.”
Rousteing has expanded his footwear collection to encompass a huge range of styles designed to woo a similarly wide range of women. “Shoes are getting bigger and bigger for us,” he said.
This increased focus on footwear, teamed with the retail expansion and technology drive of the last few months are “all about building a strong Balmain world like never before,” he enthused.
“It’s all about breaking the rules,” he said. I want to focus on my ready to wear and push couture within that ready to wear.” He will present a demi couture capsule within the men’s collection he’s showing in Paris in a couple of weeks.
Would he ever move into actual couture? “I don’t know if couture today is really relevant,” he mused. “I mean if I do couture it will be in a different way. The couture customer is not the same as before.”
And with that, he headed off to continue working on the men’s spring ’19 collection he’s presenting in just over two weeks. “If you want to see a fashion show,” he laughed, “I have to go now.” We do.