Olivier Rousteing opened up his heart in this grand show, which was dominated by a giant image of desert dunes, a sand-colored runway and models wearing sandals and clad in drapy clothing meant for hot climes. It ended with a dramatic modern dance performance by bare-chested men wearing dhoti-style trousers.
The designer, who grew up in bourgeois Bordeaux as the adopted child of French parents, has been pondering his origins, and wanted to shout about his newly discovered roots in Somalia and Ethiopia.
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Last year, the emotional documentary “Wonder Boy” retraced Rousteing’s search for his birth parents. He has also been lobbying the French government to change information laws surrounding births and adoption to allow people like him to trace their origins and identify their birth parents.
That’s why Rousteing described the show as a mix of “the personal and the professional,” and why he was eager to reveal another side of his creativity, one that was less hard-edged and bling-y, and more soft, colorful and draped.
In many ways, the collection was in tune with what’s been going on this season in all three European men’s wear cities. Designers have been turning back the clock and focusing on traditional suiting fabrics and weaves, and silhouettes that their fathers and grandfathers might have worn. Rousteing even referred to one high-waisted pair of trousers as “grandpa pants.”
He mixed the classics — a camel great coat, a blue blazer with shiny buttons, and Eighties suits in punchy brights — with shapes swiped from the Southern Hemisphere, the Middle East and India, such as dhoti trousers and draped or wrapped tops and long tunics, some of them done in featherlight suede. There were capes, too, for chilly Saharan nights, and loose, languid knits.
Because he is, after all, Monsieur Rousteing, and because he can’t resist a bit of bling — or a biker touch — he showered argyle sweaters with gold sequins, transformed trenches and suits with gilded, satiny fabrics, and popped quilted kneepads on jeans.
It was refreshing to see Rousteing take a different approach, although the tailored, grandpa looks definitely outshone the dramatic — and sometimes costume-y — draped ones.
Launch Gallery: Balmain Men’s Fall 2020