French Fashion designer Olivier Rousteing is the iconic Creative direction of French Fashion House, Balmain. Two thousand twenty-one marks ten years at Balmain for the young designer.
Growing up in the ‘very conservative and very, very French’ city of Bordeaux, Olivier Rousteing’s love for fashion stems from an appreciation of the culture surrounding it. The primary pieces that ignited his flair were his Grandmother’s Chanel coat and ‘matelassé’ bag – classic pieces that embody the height of classic Parisian fashion. Initially studying at ESMOD in Paris, Rousteing dropped out in his first year – instead, he completed internships in Italy to build his career as a fashion mogul. He worked his way up from an internship at a modest couture house before leading to a minor role at Roberto Cavalli. Over the course of his time here, he worked tirelessly to establish himself professionally and soon became the brands’ right-hand man’.
By 2003 he became the creative director of the Roberto Cavalli before being promoted to the creative director of Balmain in 2011 – a monumental achievement for such a young fashion star. Rousteing’s promotion at Balmain was not met without controversy. The fashion house was known to be more conservative and traditional, servicing an older clientele and the introduction of a young, more progressive ‘millennial’ was a point of contention in the fashion world. Rousteing explains his takeover at Balmain: “Some people left because they couldn’t have any respect for me because I was younger. Some people stayed because they loved me and thought I was really talented” (GQ).
The move by Balmain to promote Rousteing proved to pay off, as after declaring bankruptcy in 2005, by 2015, Balmain was turning over AUD 187.3 Million, with the carefully curated help of the designer. Olivier’s Millenial nature also brought to light the utility of using social media for brand growth and creating a connection with the Balmain market. Although former Balmain CEO, Emmanuel Diemoz, was initially hesitant with the creative director’s progressive approach of selfies and behind the scenes content, Rousteing’s approach has won over many clientele. Furthermore, Olivier has received glowing endorsements from many celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Rhianna, who compliment his charisma and talent. Rousteing’s young and upbeat methodology is the refresh that the Parisian fashion house needed.
The latest move for Rousteing and Balmain is the release of the fashion and accessory collection in collaboration with Netflix’s “The Harder They Fall” movie release. The Harder They Fall is a Western-inspired by authentic 19th century American West Cowboys, paying homage to the old west whilst incorporating a modern spin. The capsule collection heavily embodies the most iconic Western motifs, including heavy elements of fringe and burnt orange pieces woven throughout, palettes and ornament not often seen in Balmain collections. Rousteing takes the Western cliché and adds the Balmain flair to each look, making the collection iconic and fun.
Olivier Rousteing has gone from being Balmain’s baby to Balmain being ‘his baby’ as quoted by the creative director himself. The fashion genius has provided a well-received new direction for Balmain and will undoubtedly continue to deliver in the future.