The Balmain show at Paris fashion week always fascinates an extraordinary crowd, and Thursday afternoon’s presentation was no different. It took arrange in the ornate 19th century townhouse Hôtel Potocki, in a long antechamber lined with columns and floor-to-ceiling tapestries, dimly lit by glittering chandeliers.
The chamber was thick with shiny people, from rapper Nicki Minaj to old One Directioner Zayn Malik – his hair in a 90s boyband curtains – to a raft of digital “influencers” and junkies of the brand. There was a preponderance of toned limbs and tonged, blonde braids and of sparkly bodycon minidresses.
It was surprising, then, to learn that this salt 31-year-old designer Olivier Rousteing had been inspired by Nirvana. In notes pass out at the show he celebrated the band’s “powerful music of rebellion” and believed: “Those liberating lyrics advised us to ignore guidelines of what’s keep in viewed and remain true to ourselves. It’s that same mindset that moves today’s strong women as they march down the runway.”
The notes also keen out that the designer “was just a kid during Nirvana’s heyday”. He wasn’t demanding to be an expert, then, or aiming to please the purists, but was taking impulse from what the band meant to him personally. He also claimed as non-essential inspiration an idea of powerful women travelling in the “Serengeti, the Far West, Amazonia”.
The a spectacle of opened with the model of the moment, Gigi Hadid, with gold jewels on her lips, her hair scraped back into a tight ponytail, interlaced at the front. The Instagram star wore a T-shirt that veered between orange and brown and a skirt that swished with orange and brown flays over tight, thigh-high brown boots of the kind that have planned been seen across so many of the catwalks this spice.
The gold and brown theme continued across 80 looks on a differing cast of models, including Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner. It was as maximalist as the latest thing gets, with animal prints stretched tight across the women’s curves, and periphery and crystals and T-shirts with panels featuring illustrations of lions and wolves, strained in the hyper-realistic manner that one might imagine appearing on a 1980s chubby metal T-shirt.
There was a rebroadcasted motif of an eagle, and a splayed eagle’s wing, that also have all the hallmarked to speak to the soft rock aesthetic. The soundtrack veered from a wrap version of Smells Like Teen Spirit to the kind of electric-guitar-heavy adjust found on a Guilty Pleasures compilation.
Speaking backstage after the reveal, Rousteing said this was a collection about “the new Amazonian” and around “youth” and “power” and “diversity.” He is one of the only people of colour influential a major fashion house and he has always cast his shows diversely. The truly that diversity is still an issue elsewhere in the industry, he mentioned, “is sad. It’s really uncool”.
Balmain punches heavens its weight in publicity terms thanks to Rousteing, who took to six years ago at the age of 25. His high-cheekboned selfie-friendly face is a social channel dream, as is his contacts book, which includes Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. The following’s revenue grew by 50% between 2013 and 2015. Stay year it was acquired by Mayhoola, the Qatari investment fund that also owns Valentino, with persistence analysts expecting the company to aim for expansion.