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Nikelab Olivier Rousteing Balmain Nick Knight Robbie Spencer
Cropped image; models wear all clothes NikeLab x Olivier Rousteing & Balmain ArchivesPhotography Nick Knight

Olivier Rousteing exclusively discusses his NikeLab collab

As the collection debuts today, the designer and his muse Ronaldo talk fashion and fantasy football

Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director, is best known for his opulent aesthetic, celebrity squad and pop cultural muses. However, what you might not know is that Rousteing is also a keen football fan, citing his dad’s passion for the sport as inspiration to start playing from a young age in his hometown of Bordeaux. Now, almost twenty years later, his love for the golden game has informed a collaborative collection with NikeLab, revealed today exclusively on Dazed. To realise his vision, the designer enlisted the help of football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who advised throughout the project and is one of a team of models shot by Nick Knight for an editorial in the Summer issue of Dazed, previewed above.

The collection, described by NikeLab as a “reinvention of the off-pitch look”, features options for men and women informed by Rousteing’s luxurious design codes. “I was inspired by winning when I created the collection,” he says. “Being the champion and what is a champion. I love champions. I wanted to bring the gold and the glam in a soccer player’s story.” These concepts take shape in a varied collection which incorporates everything from embroidered sneakers and gold-piped track jackets, to one N98 hoodie which doubles up as a dress – the perfect pitch to party accompaniment. “For women, a dress like a jacket I can imagine girls wearing during the day or going to a club and wearing a tank top underneath and nice heels,” the designer goes on to say.

“I was inspired by winning when I created the collection. Being the champion and what is a champion. I love champions” – Olivier Rousteing

This same low-key luxe aesthetic is characteristic of Ronaldo. “We definitely have the same taste,” says Rousteing. “He’s more than a football player; he’s an icon and he’s a champion, and he’s someone that inspires a lot of people.” The sporting legend is similarly complimentary, stating that he would happily cast Rousteing as part of his fantasy fashion team, and would even be open to further collaboration should he ever trade in his football boots to take up design. “I think we made a good team, and this partnership could eventually be repeated in the future but maybe in different roles. Who knows?” As for now, Ronaldo continues to support Olivier’s designs, and is frequently snapped wearing Balmain’s logo t-shirts, signature zipped jackets and slick skinny jeans. Crucially, he dresses for himself as opposed to seeking affirmation from others; “I dress to look good, to feel comfortable and to be who I am. I’d say the majority of people think I dress well… but I respect every opinion.”

The link between fashion and football may not be obvious to some, but it’s undeniable that the sports stars and celebrities that populate Rousteing’s world (and his Instagram) have become the new trendsetters. Ronaldo reinforces this notion, arguing “they are both industries with target audiences and fans all around the world. Clubs and brands do change kits every season and, as in fashion, football players do have a specific style or like to create new styles.” This collaboration exemplifies the link by combining Rousteing’s commercial vision with Ronaldo’s iconic appeal and Nike’s history of elevating sportswear; the result is a collection that continues to blur the lines between the runway and the football pitch. As for Rousteing’s fantasy football team? “I would say Jourdan Dunn, Claudia (Schiffer) and Cindy Crawford. And myself.” They’d certainly make a fearful squad – as Ronaldo jokes, “I am sure Olivier is a much better player than me!”

Hair Sam McKnight and Eamonn Hughes at Premier using Moroccanoil; make-up Val Garland at Streeters; nails Sophie A; models Ysaunny and Bhumika Arora at Elite London, Maria Borges at IMG, Selena Forrest at Next Models, Katlin Aas at Tess Management, Cindy Bruna at Metropolitan Models Paris, Du Dyung Wook and Dudley O'Shaugnessy at Select Models, Geron McKinley at Click Models, Diego Villarreal at Milk Management; set design Andy Tomlinson at Streeters; photographic assistants Markn Ogue, Britt Lloyd, Laura Falconer, Koby Boafo and Henri de Carvalho; fashion assistant Louise Ford; hair assistants Declan Sheils, Richard Delassus and Valerie Benvides; make-up assistants Joey Choy and Elizabeth Hsieh; set design assistants James Robotham and Sam Overs; produced by Prettybird; casting Noah Shelley; produced by Juliette Larthe and Hannah May with assistants Laura Thomas Smith and Ella Knight at PRETTYBIRD