Sep 28, 2023
A Fashion Week without glamour and screaming fans wouldn’t be worthy of its name. Fortunately, Balmain was on hand on Wednesday night to dial up the excitement on the Parisian runways to a suitably feverish pitch. Balmain’s show, staged at the Palais de Chaillot, necessitated a formidable police presence, the officers struggling to keep hordes of raving fans in check, while a metro station had to be closed.
Cher, Charlotte Rampling and Lucy Hale were just a few of the celebrities present, alongside scores of influencers. As it did last season, Balmain opted for a rather intimate show format, inviting guests in the plush halls of the Palais de Chaillot, with the Eiffel Tower glittering in the backdrop. And for the second time, the label staged a first show session in the afternoon, inviting its most important clients, while the evening event was reserved for VIPs and media.
Balmain seems to be no longer interested in the show-events it held in the past, like the one it staged exactly a year ago at the Jean Bouin stadium, with 7,000 spectators. It has also jettisoned the Balmain Army spirit, with its triumphant female warrior looks. A powerful style characterised by gilded accents and slinky silhouettes which has now been replaced by a less boisterous elegance, inspired by the rich heritage of the maison founded in 1945 by Pierre Balmain.
For Spring/Summer 2024, media-savvy Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has gone back to the label’s roots, immersing himself in the archives and notably tapping Pierre Balmain’s creations from the 1940s and 50s, distinctive for their sculptural shapes and painstaking attention to couture details. Rousteing has reinterpreted the label’s codes in joyous, colourful fashion, eschewing last season’s black and white palette.
The new collection is infused with a retro, chic lady spirit. The silhouettes are cinched at the waist and flare out below, either in short, tight-fitting or slightly rounded outfits, or in airy silk dresses and long skirts, some of them pleated, others gathered and swirling. Sharp lines combined with rounded, undulating shapes, as in the short pleated hoop skirts and the sculptural corset dresses.
Rousteing picked out two signature Balmain motifs from the archives: polka dots and roses. He had fun with polka dots in his previous winter collection, and followed suit this season by designing elegant white sheath dresses with black polka dots, and others in black with white dots, as well as blouses and pyjama-style sets with the same graphic theme.
However it is with roses that Rousteing really let his creativity loose. They were ubiquitous. Roses overflowed from handbags, and featured in print on various silk and cotton dresses. Roses were scattered on several items in the guise of fabric appliqués, like the giant roses blooming all over a corset dress, or embroidered with gleaming stones.
Roses made in all sorts of materials, from leather to rubber, latex, porcelain and even recycled plastic, were used to decorate garments, most often as three-dimensional flower garlands bordering a collar or climbing along the torso towards one shoulder. Rousteing was also inspired by the patterns of garden trellises used for climber roses, which he featured on handbags and fabric-decorated shoes.
The collection consisted of some 50 looks, nearly half the number usually presented at the label’s mega shows. This was due to the theft of 50 Balmain looks from this new collection that happened just 10 days ago. Although the label decided to still go ahead with the show.
In a note, Rousteing thanked his staff, which had to redouble their efforts for the show to go on, and friends and colleagues for their solidarity. He also thanked the police for their quick investigation, saying they found the van that had been stolen and a few boxes containing clothes.
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