Olivier Rousteing Is Bringing Couture Back To Balmain

Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.
Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing has been incredibly transparent about wanting to bring fashion to the masses. In fact, he's structuring his entire business around it. Rousteing — one of three Black men to ever helm a major fashion house — has made good on his promise of promoting inclusivity by helping Black actresses challenge racism at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and designing Beyoncé’s iconic Coachella costumes. In September, Rousteing introduced a next level army — using virtual reality to democratize the runway in a groundbreaking partnership with [Facebook] Oculus to allow a new audience from around the world join in for an exclusive 360 view of the collection. And now that the world is watching, Rousteing is taking the French fashion house back to its roots.
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On Wednesday, he announced at WWD's Retail & Apparel CEO Summit that he wanted to "bring back the Parisian DNA" to his brand. For the first time in 16 years, Balmain will make couture again, and it could be on the fashion calendar as soon as next January. We knew something was up earlier this year, when Rousteing decided it was time to outfit his #BalmainArmy in more than bandage dresses and sharply-tailored blazers. He launched a 10-piece collection of evening wear dubbed 44 Francois Premier (the location of Balmain's atelier), calling it a "palette cleanser."
As Rousteing put it, the move is "a chance to return to the beginnings of this house, with the single driving goal being that of creating unique and exquisite pieces, far removed from editorial and runway pressures." Last January, the designer told Vogue that, to prepare, he dug through the house's archives with the aim of paying tribute to both Pierre Balmain himself and as well as the rock & roll aesthetic of Christoph Decarnin, Rousteing's predecessor.
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