The Balmain designer was enlisted by the singer to outfit her and her musicians for her Cornucopia residency
This time last year, Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing was on a high after creating not one, but two iconic custom wardrobes for Beyonce’s #Beychella performances. Outfitting the singer, and all of her accompanying dancers and full marching band, Rousteing didn’t imagine he would be taking on a project of that size anytime soon again: but he was wrong. Now, a year later, he’s working on an equally epic collaboration, this time with Björk.
After presenting his debut Couture collection for Balmain in January – the Parisian house’s first in 16 years – the designer was contacted by the Icelandic artist’s team who wanted to team up ahead of her Cornucopia residency at New York arts venue the Shed. “I was really surprised because I wasn’t expecting her call at all,” Rousteing tells us. “Life is full of surprises though and when Björk told me: ‘I want to dress in Balmain, I want my musicians draped in Balmain’, I thought ‘wow!’”
Working collaboratively, Björk selected her favourite looks from the collection, with Rousteing making adjustments to them in the colours and shapes that the singer envisioned. In addition to outfitting the Icelandic artist, the designer also created custom looks for her musicians and dancers – a task that came with its own difficulties. “It was really interesting because when you are wearing Couture you’re probably not playing an instrument,” he explains. “We had to play with the shapes and make sure it was comfortable for each of them for all the instruments in the orchestra.”
The looks created feature recreations of the pearl-shaped lampshade skirt – one version in aqua and another where the giant balls are shoulder pads. Elsewhere, her musicians wear floating multicoloured chiffon dresses that complement the staging created by set designer Tobias Gremmler.
“It’s miraculous that Olivier went on this adventure with all his team and talent, they sent a whole magnificent Haute Couture team to spoil us in every way,” says Björk on working with the designer. “I saw his last collection and felt we were very aligned; especially with what I imagined my team of flute players to be. It’s often hard to describe music without words but Balmain really understands my esoteric descriptions.”
Rousteing, a longtime fan of Björk, is similarly overjoyed to be collaborating with her on such a special project. “Björk has always been my inspiration and adoration,” he gushes. “When I was 14-years-old in the cinema watching movies featuring Björk, I never would have expected that one day I would be working with her. When I got the call, I felt like a kid again, more than the Balmain designer.”
Now the show has debuted – it continues until June 1 – the designer is extremely emotional, especially after seeing it all come to fruition. “I had tears,” he shares of his reaction to seeing everything come together at The Shed. “It was really emotional for me and sometimes I think we forget that fashion is about emotion. This was pure, beautiful emotions.”
Head here to read an interview with Björk about the Cornucopia residency.