Olivier Rousteing tells us why he’s orchestrated a supermodel reunion for the house’s SS16 campaign, shot by Steven Klein
Olivier Rousteing has pulled in some modelling heavyweights for Balmain’s new campaign: Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. In these images, the original supermodels are captured by Steven Klein in the house’s SS16 collection. Rousteing has admired these women from afar since he was a teenager – not just because of their looks, but the way they brought fashion into the mainstream cultural conversation.
“They made fashion relevant,” he says, “As relevant to pop culture as music, cinema and sport…” This is a trait shared by many members of the #BalmainArmy, from Rihanna to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West and, more recently, the stars of the house’s AW15 campaign: Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Gigi and Bella Hadid. These people have the power to communicate.
Since he’s worked as a fashion designer, Rousteing admits that it’s commonplace for images of Schiffer, Crawford and Campbell to be found on his moodboards. But again, his admiration for them goes beyond their physical appearance – “They are much more than models; they are strong business women, and at the same time they have families... I find this very inspiring.”
Having them star in his campaign is therefore, quite understandably, a massive deal for the designer. “To say that working with these three incredible women was a dream come true is no exaggeration,” he says. Here Rousteing explains more about this campaign and why Schiffer, Crawford and Campbell belong in the #BalmainArmy.
What is your first memory of the supermodels?
Olivier Rousteing: Ever since I was a teenager in Bordeaux I have been amazed and inspired by the supermodels. These women were literally everything! I used to stare at them – on TV and in video clips; in magazines and in campaigns. I loved watching them walk the runway. They made fashion relevant, as relevant to pop culture as music, cinema and sport… It was around that time that I first came across fashion editorials from with Claudia, Cindy and Naomi. These images demonstrated the amazing transformative power of fashion to me.
How do these women embody your vision for Balmain?
Olivier Rousteing: These women are powerful, sexy, confident, glamorous. They have a unique attitude, they know how to wear my designs, how to move, they really own the clothes. They are much more than models; they are strong business women, and at the same time they have families, kids, lovers – I find this very inspiring. They have always been very modern. They are icons, living legends, superheroes. It is amazing that they have manage to maintain this status for so long and that they are still on top of the game.
Where did the idea for casting them in this campaign come from?
Olivier Rousteing: The iconic images of Claudia, Cindy and Naomi are often found among the jumble on mood boards in my studio. Since I started out as a fashion designer, one of my ultimate goals was to do a campaign with them. They have all worn Balmain in editorials and in real life so we starting building relationships with them and so the idea came very naturally. To say that working with these three incredible women was a dream come true is no exaggeration.
“I used to stare at them – on TV and in video clips; in magazines and in campaigns... They made fashion relevant, as relevant to pop culture as music, cinema and sport…” – Olivier Rousteing
What inspired the campaign? What were the references?
Olivier Rousteing: For this campaign, there was never any question of which direction to take; I wanted to create beautiful iconic images, strong portraits of these beautiful women. It was obvious that there was no need for any special installation or any type of lighting tricks – Pascal Dangin (the creative director for this campaign), Steven (Klein) and I knew that the unique combination of Balmain’s SS16 designs and these powerful women was more than enough. Therefore, lighting is clean and direct and the women are front and center.
What was the shoot itself like? Any stories?
Olivier Rousteing: When I was watching Claudia, Cindy, Naomi and Steven instinctively work together, I was struck by the displays of confidence, professionalism and grace in front of me. There was never any doubt that the final images would be anything other than perfect. Looking at them now, I like to think that perhaps someday these shots might also form part of some future designer’s mood board.
How did it feel to see Naomi, Cindy and Claudia in your designs?
Olivier Rousteing: Cindy, Naomi and Claudia are women that know how to own the clothes, they know how to move in my designs and to empower them. It’s an real honour to see them wearing Balmain. They just look “splendides”!
Watch Balmain’s SS16 show below: