Mass ap­peal

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

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

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

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