Olivier Rousteing took charge of Balmain at 25, and shook up the storied house with undeniable force. Each season seems more fearless than the last, from AW14’s leather rendered as armour topped off with elegant Masai influences to SS15’s fetish-heavy bondage and flesh-revealing vertical panels. Rousteing’s Balmain kingdom is a star-charged superpower, fuelled by a giddy love of pop culture and inspired by the diverse crew of “strong women” he surrounds himself with – like cover girl Kendall Jenner and campaign star RiRi.
Here are five things to take away from our previous longread on the creative director.
HE’S A MAXIMALIST
“I’m a maximalist and I’m proud of it. I love colours, I love print, I love ornaments, I love architecture, I love bling, I love furs, I love daring, I love sexy. You know, you’re a maximalist when you don’t want to push things down. My emotions in my own life are maximalist. I can love or I can hate.”
THE ESSENCE OF BALMAIN IS HAPPINESS
“My work days are dreamy days. For me, the essence of Balmain is happiness. It’s joyful. It’s not complicated. It’s more about feeling good. If you want people to feel good in your clothes, you have to feel good creating your clothes. And if you create with happiness you have no boundaries, no limits.”
HIS VISION IS FOR EVERYONE
“I’m not the kind of guy that says, ‘Oh, it’s for this crowd only, and only they can understand.’ I hate that. I’m the happiest person when everyone can understand my show. I love when 14-year-olds write me on my Instagram going ‘I love your work, I love you so much for inspiring me.’”
DON’T EXPECT HIM TO BE WHAT HE’S NOT
“People either love or hate Balmain. It’s not the kind of brand where you say, ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ It’s, ‘Oh, that’s disgusting,’ or, ‘Oh, that’s amazing!’ And that’s the cool thing about my position. I have to assume it and honestly it makes me stronger, day after day. Sometimes I think some people are waiting for me to do full-on minimalism, but don’t expect Olivier Rousteing for Balmain to do the opposite of what he is. You can think, ‘Maybe that’s not my taste,’ but just don’t push my identity down.”
HE KEEPS IT REAL
“When I got this job I decided I wanted to share with people who I really am. It’s important to share real things. I want to show people that at Balmain there’s a young designer that can cry, that can smile, that can party and have a life but still make millions and the business is continuing.”
Upvote your favourites to decide the Readers' 100