He dresses icons of fashion from Jane Fonda to Beyoncé and has just celebrated his 30th birthday. Creative director Olivier Rousteing gives Justine Lee an insight into Balmain’s collaboration with H&M
Creative director Olivier Rousteing on Balmain’s collaboration with H&M
When olivier rousteing took the reins at Balmain in 2009, the French label was on a steady climb in the fashion world. His predecessor as creative director, Christophe Decarnin, had given it a tattered rock ’n’ roll appeal. Rousteing has since demonstrated season after season his clear understanding of what is desirable fashion—women want to wear it and men want to see women in it. He has attracted a roster of A-list celebrities as friends and clients, including models Joan Smalls, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, a group he calls the #Balmainarmy or #Balmainnation.
Balmain launches a collaboration with H&M this month, joining a long list of designers who have worked with the Swedish label—karl Lagerfeld, Stella Mccartney, Roberto Cavalli, Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang, to name just a few. “For me, H&M represents new fashion,” says Rousteing. “They are pushing the boundaries and bringing style to the whole world.”
It is perhaps Rousteing’s new-generation mentality that has fuelled this project. “Balmain is about luxury, craftsmanship and traditional techniques,” he explains. “Pierre Balmain was truly innovative, and I wanted to apply his ideas but push them into the future.” In a world where fashion is increasingly democratised (invite-only runway shows can be seen streamed live, and elite labels can be bought with a tap on a phone), it’s obvious why Rousteing would want to appeal to the mass. “Nowadays, it’s all about the new world—pop culture, diversity, the energy and the attitude of the young.” With this collection, he argues that fashion should be inclusive and accessible. “Why should it be exclusive anymore? I think it should be for everyone. I love that I can respect both tradition and also be part of the new generation.”
Rousteing worked closely with H&M to craft the collection. “I worked on every single piece, from start to finish. The embellished pieces are important to me, especially the strong-shouldered, long-sleeve dress; they are from my first collection at Balmain.” Other styles unequivocally Balmain also made the cut—everything from his signature longsleeved embellished mini dresses to bold tailoring and even tops of the more delicate sort draped in velvet and silk. “I’ve known what I wanted to do from the beginning,” Rousteing says. “The only challenge has been editing the collection, because there are so many pieces I could have included.”
The Balmain x H&M collection will be available globally in select H&M stores from November 5.
BOY WONDER Olivier Rousteing became the creative director of Balmain at the age of 25, and has since glammed up the French label