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Olivier Rousteing presented his Spring 2017 menswear collection for Balmain in Paris, bringing his Balmain Army of fans and friends with him. On the runway, Rousteing cycled through jeans, safari jackets, minidresses, and crocheted outerwear accenting each with plenty of gold details and chain embellishments.
Rousteing was backstage, talking up this turning point before today’s show and taking aim at his critics. “The Balmain Army has shed its armor,” he said. “Whatever I do, even if I cover up my girls, people can say it’s vulgar. But this is what it is. I think it’s really chic, really French. It’s Paris how I see it.”
This was still plenty body-conscious. But in place of glitzy embroideries, Rousteing let color do the talking. After the tawny desert tones and cargo greens of the opening numbers, he showed a jungle’s worth of brights: in solids, mismatched snakeskin prints, and graphic stripes. There were also a lot of knits. And that seemed strategic: They’re not only easier to wear than the label’s famous bandage dresses, but also kinder on the wallet—two factors that could count for a lot as the label pushes into new territories. Lightening up worked in his favor on a Missoni-esque crocheted caftan and skirt.
For evening, he proposed long split-seam dresses pavéd with multicolor crystals in Art Deco motifs and slinky chain mail dresses à la Versace. The former proved too difficult to walk in; they didn’t pass the lightness test, but the chain mail numbers did. That’s the kind of growth that the critics he was talking about backstage could believe in.