Surprise! Balmain’s Fall ’16 Campaign Doubles As A Kanye West Music Video

When Olivier Rousteing began teasing images of his fall '16 campaign for Balmain, he said the black-and-white photos symbolize where "music meets fashion." Outside of Kanye West making a cameo in the ads, though, it wasn't entirely clear how the ruffle- and bead-clad models pointed to this artistic intersection — until now. Turns out, the gradual release of imagery was building up to what might just be the most epic fashion campaign film to date: Balmain's seven-minute clip doubles as the music video for West's "Wolves," from The Life of Pablo.
Steven Klein, who photographed the teary-eyed models for the moody ad spots, also directed West's music video; Rousteing co-creative directed the video with Pascal Dangin. Apparently, it was Rousteing's idea to fuse Balmain's fall '16 collection with West's latest oeuvre: The thought came to him at the performer's The Life of Pablo/Yeezy Season Three extravaganza at Madison Square Garden, where he sat with the Kardashian-West clan and other VIPs. "From the moment I heard ['Wolves'], I knew we had to use it for this campaign," Rousteing said in a press release. He called West a few days later to pitch the concept. "I was thrilled when he immediately responded that he was on board and excited to see how involved he wanted to be. In addition to his music talents, he's got an amazing cinematographic instinct," Rousteing said in the release. The whole production came together right after the Met Gala, where Kimye and crew all wore bespoke Balmain. (Rousteing has unofficially earned the title of family couturier.) Not only do Kanye and his eternal muse (and wife), Kim Kardashian West, make an appearance, but so do Met Gala attendees Cindy Crawford, Kylie Jenner, and Anna Cleveland, alongside campaign models Alessandra Ambrosio, Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Francisco Lachowski, Josephine Skriver, among others. (You can find the full credits on YouTube.) Vic Mensa and Sia, West's collaborators on the track, also appear, further solidifying Rousteing's vision for the season.
To Rousteing, the music and fashion crossover goes beyond his chumminess with the Wests. "Business-wise, the music system is so strong and sometimes, for me, it’s even more modern than the fashion system," he told Vogue. He's interested in how music can reach such a wide audience, compared to fashion: "With music you have a platform that helps you to discover an entire world," Rousteing told the publication. "From a business point of view, the communication around music is way stronger and way more powerful and way more, in a way, interesting, and that’s what I love about music." On top of the its fall 2016 collection, this Balmain campaign showcases Rousteing's collaboration with denim brand Fear of God for West's Met Gala get-up. Vogue speculates it could be the first time a luxury fashion campaign featured the work of another brand. (Both Kim and Kanye recycled their custom looks for the music video.) This is apparently one of Rousteing's favorite projects since he took over creative direction for the brand in 2011: "When I saw Kanye singing, Kim moving, the models walking and crying, the tears on Kanye, the tears on Kim," he told the magazine, "I was just like, Wow." Watch the full video for "Wolves," below.

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