Olivier Rousteing on His Balmain Fine Jewelry Debut

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Balmain
Photo credit: Courtesy of Balmain

Each of the twenty-one pieces in Balmain’s debut fine jewelry collection reference classic motifs from the Paris maison’s archives and creative director Olivier Rousteing’s own runway icons. The first of two suites, Labyrinth, highlights founder Pierre Balmain’s signature hedge maze-inspired pattern first introduced in the 1970s. Emblem, the second, features the house’s distinctive coat of arms familiar from its gold-buttoned blazers, alongside intricate jeweled lattice embroideries from Rousteing’s Fall 2012 Fabergé collection. Crafted in the finest jewelry workshops in France, the earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings are made with ethical 18k yellow gold, conflict-free onyx, and traceable diamonds and tsavorites. BAZAAR.com spoke with Rousteing about his inspirations and favorite pieces.

Jewelry can be a personal talisman and even a sort of armor—something you’ve spoken about in relation to the rings you wore after your accident. Did your own connection to jewelry influence your designs?

While I was designing this first Balmain fine jewelry collection, of course, I thought about how jewelry is often passed on from one generation to the next and is often the perfect gift. I reflected on the important pieces of jewelry in my own life. I have a bracelet that my father gave me many years ago that I never take off because it represents a constant reminder of our love. Is there anything else in our daily lives that has that kind of power?

Why was it important to you that all of the pieces be genderless?

Like most of my recent runways, the new fine jewelry collection avoids outdated divisions between what is declared and delineated to be specifically for men and what is meant to be only for women. It’s time to move past those artificial divisions! It’s the twenty-first century! For example, look at the signet rings we designed. They are like a rally symbol for the whole Balmain army—not women or men—just strong personalities that affirm themselves through their unique style.

How did you settle on the Balmain Blazon and Labyrinth pattern as key motifs for the collection? What was your design process like?

Balmain fine jewelry is the transposition of the maison ethos, iconic designs, and singular savoir-faire into bold jewelry lines. We wanted it to enhance Balmain’s silhouettes, complete its looks, and be as instantly recognizable as any of its creations. The Blazon, Balmain’s coat of arms reworked, and the Labyrinth, which honors Monsieur Balmain’s iconic pattern, are indeed very much anchored in Balmain’s archives and in today’s runway.

When looking back at your first decade at Balmain, why did the Fabergé collection stand out as the one you’d most like to reinterpret through jewelry?

Shape, embellishment, and savoir-faire define this collection I sent down the runway ten years ago, and it still nurtures my vision of Balmain.

Will you wear the collection yourself? If so, what is your favorite piece in the collection and how will you style it?

I am already wearing it and it feels like it has always been part of my life and my personal style. I think that all the pieces are filled with the same energy that you can find in everything we do at Balmain.

If I had to choose only one piece, it would be the Emblem signet ring. I love how it sits on the finger and the intricacy of the details. It is unique, a nod to everything I love at Balmain, and symbolizes what I have tried to achieve with our jewelry line: It is timeless thanks to the shape and the incredible goldsmithing, it is a nod to Balmain’s incredible archives, and it is also a fabulous piece of self-expression.

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