In November, Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing announced he was ready to "bring back the Parisian DNA" to his brand and show the French fashion house's first couture collection in 16 years. The Chambre Syndicale allowed Rousteing to show on the Haute Couture Spring 2019 schedule as a guest — the term 'couture' is regulated by French law and not just anyone can decide they are a couturier. And Rousteing went all out for the extra special occasion.
On Wednesday, he presented what he told Vogue was combining the old Balmain with the newer Instagram-saavy brand its known for today. "Of course, the house is known for being edgy and sexy and glamorous," he told the magazine. "Here, it’s all about bringing back Balmain to the elegance of la France. Everything you see will give the sense that it’s taken from the ideas of Mr. Balmain."
What followed was a mix-up of Rousteing's usual silhouette: strong shoulders and jagged lines with pearls worn as orb-like bangles, a skirt paired with a fuzzy sweater, or carried as an evening bag.
And there were hats, a lot of hats. In fact, the 33-year-old creative director collaborated with House of Malakai on the sterling silver headpieces. The pieces were entirely futuristic, an aesthetic furthered by models wearing glimmering body paint (one model's skin was painted darker than her own, drawing questions on social media. We've reached out to Balmain for clarification on the matter).
In alignment with Rousteing's mission to make fashion available to everyone, the show was broadcast on Balmain's new app. The move signifies a continuation of his use of virtual reality to make fashion more accessible. Last September, he showed Balmain's spring 2019 collection in partnership with [Facebook] Oculus.
"I'm democratizing the runway," he wrote on the show's invite, "to allow a new audience from around the world to join me for an exclusive, up close 360 view of the collection," allowing the same number of people to watch the show in virtual reality as in real life.
As Rousteing continues to take the legacy brand to new heights, we're eager to see what's next.
Refinery29 has reached out to Balmain for comment on the model's skin paint. We will update this post if/when we hear back.