Olivier Rousteing explores his newfound origins with the Balmain Resort ’22 collection.
It’s been 75 years since Pierre Balmain’s very first presentation, a seminal collection that would shape the very foundations and ethos of the Parisian maison. So unexpectedly fresh was the collection that American writer and member of the Parisian avant-garde, Alice B. Toklas, declared Balmain’s debut presentation to be an introduction to the “New French Style”.
That is the style current creative director Olivier Rousteing references and draws inspiration from, among others, for he has also found a new, equally profound source to explore: his geneology.
Recently, Rousteing has gone through a crisis of identity. An adopted child thinking himself to be mixed-race all of his life, last year came with the discovery that Rousteing’s birth parents were in fact Ethiopian and Somalian. (To be chronicled in the documentary Wonder Boy, streaming worldwide on Netflix, on June 26).
So begins his expedition into his African roots. “I was inspired by the Horn of Africa’s rich heritage of beautiful weavings, mesmerising patterns and jewelled embroideries,” he says, referring to the intricate patterns, embellishments and relaxed silhouettes of the Balmain Resort ’22 collection. Elsewhere, Balmain’s signature six-button blazer, striped marinière, military inflections and the 50-year-old Labyrinth monogram are imbued with youthful silhouettes borrowed from ’90s pop music and a “SoCal-meets-Ibiza vibe.” The result is a unisex Resort collection symbolic of the Parisian relaxed nonchalance.
“Almost every one of these designs adapts perfectly to whoever selects to wear them,” Rousteing shares, “which is another attribute of our new open and evolving era, another characteristic of this new and inclusive New French Style.”