Olivier Rousteing isn’t the first designer to succumb to the lure of the American Dream. Pierre Balmain, the founder of the French fashion house where Rousteing has been creative director for 12 years, traveled frequently to the U.S. and his ambassadors included Josephine Baker.
“What Josephine Baker was to Monsieur Balmain, Beyoncé is to me,” Rousteing said. “She’s my muse.”
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The pair cocreated Balmain’s recent Renaissance Couture collection, so it was only fitting that Rousteing’s resort line should be inspired by the “Formation” singer’s birthplace: Texas.
While Rousteing has never set foot in the Lone Star State, it didn’t really matter: his collection riffed on the kind of cowboy arcana familiar to anyone who’s ever watched a western movie. Think body-con dresses lavishly embroidered with paisley motifs and arabesques; hourglass jackets and sweaters “glamified” with rhinestone fringe, and a plethora of python.
Two years ago, the designer created some costumes for “The Harder They Fall,” alongside a spin-off collection inspired by the spirit of the Netflix movie, produced by Shawn Carter, aka Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z. Back then, it was all denim and rust-colored suede.
Here, many looks were rendered in graphic black-and-white, in a melding of Far West inspirations with Balmain’s heritage “Jolie Madame” style, underlined by saucer-like hats that combined archival designs with materials like mock croc, and super-pointy cowboy boots with shimmering crystal buckles.
Rousteing took his concept to the outer limits with showstoppers including his ‘n’ hers sequin-encrusted jackets with a swinging curtain of fringe, which positively screamed Lil Nas X. Quiet luxury it ain’t, but Rousteing said his clients were in the market for something a little lustier.
“Luxury is facing a lot of challenges for a host of reasons, with the whole global situation, but people are hungry for the kind of extremely luxurious pieces we provide,” he said, noting a shift away from logos and streetwear since the end of the coronavirus pandemic. “These days, people want clothes that are bold without necessarily being branded.”
The designer was just back from New York City, where he was honored at The New School’s annual Parsons Benefit, and was already plotting his next visit Stateside, as Balmain prepares to open stores in Houston and Atlanta in July, Dallas in September and Costa Mesa in October.
Rousteing is betting clients there will be taking style cues from Beyoncé, who is wowing audiences with her high-fashion looks on her current “Renaissance World Tour.” “In the end, how many brands do you need to make a beige sweater?” he said with a smile.
Launch Gallery: Balmain Resort 2024
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