Paris Fashion Week Spring / Summer 2012 Show Report: Balmain

30 September 2011

Yesterday in Paris, there was one question on everyone’s lips. No, it wasn’t that one about Dior. It was, of course, will Olivier Rousteing’s first collection for Balmain be a hit? The answer came with a resounding sigh of relief.
 
You’ll remember last season, designer Christophe Decarnin, the man behind Balmain for six years, caused a major hoo-ha when he didn’t turn up to his A/W’11 catwalk show due to health problems. Within weeks of Decarnin’s scandalous no-show, his successor had been named and it was 26-year-old Rousteing who had worked alongside him since 2009.
 
Fast-forward six months and Balmain’s Spring / Summer 2012 collection, shown on Thursday evening during Paris Fashion Week, put any doubts to rest. Rousteing wisely remained true to the French brand’s fabulous formula of mini-dresses drenched in sequins and sharp-shouldered jackets with a Las Vegas-inspired debut.
 
But rather than hole-riddled T-shirts and tattered jeans, this was, according to Rousteing, an ‘evolution’. The collection focused on Balmain’s couture roots, sending beautifully ornate tunics down the catwalk under embossed gold jackets or white suede blazers. Of course, the skin-tight leather trousers were still firmly in place and there were enough glinting crystals and studs to ensure a seamless transition.
 
"Viva Las Vegas…and budding young fashion talent," WWD wrote. The Wall Street Journal's Christina Binkley noted, "From the look of things, Mr. Rousteing has a bright future." "I think he did great," said Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Linda Fargo as she exited the show. And Suzy Menkes called the collection "a hit". Yes, the flashy uniform of the rich and famous is safe for another season.

- Jessica Vince


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