Balmain: How To Be French
Olivier Rousteing delved into his own wardrobe when it came to the spring/summer 2018 Balmain collection. The looks on the catwalk very much catered to the uniform that has become his own personal signature as opposed to simply the bling and more bling that has become the hallmark of the house. So we're talking tight black jeans and Cuban heels and a trophy jacket up top, all very much more obviously wearable than collections past and built on straightforward separates as opposed to the more intimidating tunic. "I felt myself pushed to create an even more personal runway offering - one that best reflects how I feel and dress today," he noted.
For him, he said, it was also a celebration of being French - "reaffirming key ideals that are both universal and uniquely tied to France and its long history," his show notes read - always a personal explanation by him of what he is doing. So there were some wonderful nods to French classics - the traditional Breton done in black and silver chainmail, for instance. How Balmain! Or the little riffs on the Chanel jacket, tailoring that could have been a little bit Le Smoking but then also later came with chopped out sides.
It felt like an expanded repertoire from the designer and although there was of course his mastery of textile technique for studding and fringe and embellishment and sparkle on serious biker and rocker jackets, it did feel more edited in comparison to past seasons. There was tailoring and there was shirting - pieces one could pick out and buy when perhaps they couldn't before. And if they were brave enough those baroque 'n' roll jackets really did keep coming - but because they were now shown in the context of a more approachable wardrobe, they in turn felt more approachable. A trophy jacket works when everything else is sober, right?
Some were medieval in incarnation, while the moments of womenswear were Balmain in its favourite decade, the Eighties, and with flouncing skater skirts.
It was all in monochrome with just flourishes of red, an editing detail which made the whole thing feel more controlled and grown-up. Because we know Balmain is great at being brash but what was refreshing to see was that within that there is the ability for volume control.