Balmain’s difficult couture rebirth
The Paris haute couture season witnessed its last big event Wednesday evening with the return of Balmain to haute couture, after a break of over one decade.
The house’s creative director – and now couturier – Olivier Rousteing invited just 130 guests into Balmain’s brand new store on the Rue Saint-Honoré, opposite the city’s most fashion friendly inn, the Hôtel Costes. The multi-mirrored store is due to open in two weeks time.
Rousteing is a very talented designer who has built a great reputation and sizeable business – the house will break $200 million in revenues this year – with his high-embroidery, glossy and sexy chic.
For couture he concentrated far more on shape, looking deep into the house’s archives for sculptural forms. In the end, however, he often seemed to reference the early 60s futurism and grandiosity of Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent.
It began very well, with twisting robes and coats in ivory silk, finished with over-sized pearls, and even pearl logo purses the size of small footballs. Rousteing cut dresses as bubbles and even whipped up a white pantsuit that looked to be made of waxed eagle feathers. Showing mesh bouclé wool skirts; medieval page cocktails and blouses made of vertical fans of abstract pastel prints. Everything finished with Swarovski sequins – over 1,000,000 of them in the whole collection. If that all sounds rather complicated that’s because it was.
While the big shapes were intriguing, too often the final fold or angle or extension was too much. Olivier certainly treated couture as a laboratory, but many of his experiments just did not come off. In the event it was a happy, though somewhat difficult rebirth.
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