Balmain Womenswear A/W12

Olivier Rousteing's ornate collection inspired by a Christie’s exhibition

Fashion Show
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Balmain’s recent collections have been blighted by Decarnin’s unfortunate departure but Olivier Rousteing showed that he has enough clout to push the dark cloud away as he turned out a decadent, ornate but still inexplicably covetable collection. Inexplicable because the trick with Balmain collections, is that there’s a so-bad-it’s-good factor that have you questioning your own tastes. This was certainly the case when a pearl encrusted leather sweater with a Fabergé egg-inspired rose motif came out as the opener. Backstage, Rousteing uttered the words "rich" and "richness" over and over again because his starting point for this directional decoration was down to seeing the jewellery collection of Liz Taylor at Christies in New York.

I love the richness of all that jewellery, specifically of the pearls and it was important for me to keep that richness. At the same time, it was important to have a new and strong shape at Balmain

"I love the richness of all that jewellery, specifically of the pearls and it was important for me to keep that richness. At the same time, it was important to have a new and strong shape at Balmain," explained Rousteing. Cue a new shoulder shape, not bulbous or curved but broad and sharp and when used on jacket, they almost looked square, which was down to Rousteing looking at the cubic display units at the auctioneers and wanting to obtain a similar sharpness. "You can see all those jackets are sharp and cubic and then I wanted to have that richness of the jewellery on top of them." It was a brilliant contrast indeed and one that will probably instill confidence in Balmain aficionados (remember how rampant they were back in 2008-9?) that it is still the label to lust after.

Combinations like a plain crew neck sweater worn with pearl encrusted velvet skinny trousers or a leather quilted jacket in petrol blue with crushed velvet quilted skintight treggings were just a sampling of what girls in the audience will be hankering after. The repetition of Russian church-inspired pearl embroideries and sumptuous stamped brocades were the deliberately decadent and unapologetically OTT touches that puts Rousteing in a good position to send Balmain on a soaring high again.

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