The Balmain show feels less like a runway spectacle and more like a private Kardashian-Jenner shopping trip that fellow show-goers (and everyone following along from home) happen to be intruding on. It's not just because Olivier Rousteing is the family's unofficial couturier, or even because the clothes on display feel directly inspired by them — rather, oftentimes, they'll get first dibs on new wares before they even hit the catwalk. Case in point: Kim Kardashian's rather unique quandary this morning regarding her pulled-from-the-lineup netted bodysuit. After the collection was revealed, she took to Snapchat to reveal that Olivier Rousteing had designed her and sister Kourtney Kardashian's looks specifically for the spring '17 show. She also shared that she had asked herself: "Underwear or no underwear?" (The answer was left to viewers' discretion.) Given that her face was printed on the show's invites, she obviously needed to make a statement.
If there's one thing we can always expect from Balmain, it's that its shows will never be a low-key affair: Held in Hôtel Potocki, the former residence of the Polish noble Potocki family, the Kardashians (and mom Kris Jenner) held court in the front row next to Carine Roitfeld in an ornate room adorned with twinkling chandeliers and hundreds of palm trees and plants — a glittering (and expensive) urban jungle. Natasha Poly opened the show in a copper brown, cut-out dress worn with leggings and a diaphanous robe, backed by a small orchestra that played versions of Britney Spears' "Everytime" and Adele's "Hometown Glory" (yes, you read that right). It wouldn't be Balmain without the #BalmainArmy — and Gigi Hadid, Doutzen Kroes, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Jourdan Dunn all reported for duty. However, Rousteing made it clear that the army was evolving this season. His show notes read that the Balmain woman was "showing [her] softer side, sure in the knowledge that there's no longer any need to shout."
Though we've grown accustomed to Rousteing's body-con silhouettes and rigid, glittering, armor-like outlines with strong shoulders and cinched waists, this collection was considerably more billowing and fluid as his female army shed its fierce shell.
There were still belted waists, but these were featured on suede jackets and thigh-split skirts or palazzo pants. The opening safari section in greens, oranges, and burnt coppers transitioned into a colorful series of snakeskin paired with sheer and suede skirts. The snakeskin swiftly segued into sparklier materials as the show closed on a glittering high, featuring silver and gold maxi dresses; chain mail; rainbow, crochet jumpsuits; and iridescent ponchos. After six years at the helm of Balmain, Rousteing is softening his structure — and the French fashion house's perpetually glamorous girl has now grown into a wholly body-con-embracing woman.