When Olivier Rousteing was announced as the creative director of Balmain, to say that all eyes have been on him ever since is quite the understatement. It's for this reason that he might be a bit pleased at the moment to have the spotlight off him and on the two leading men, Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane, instead.
For spring/summer 2013m Rousteing continued to breathe some youth into the brand. Harlequin monochrome printed trouser suits were inspired by the tiles he saw on a recent trip to Cuba and Latin techniques also informed the detailing across the shoulders of boxy matador-style jackets. Embellishment was another strong point and saw Rousteing show just how good he is at working with different fabrics like woven raffia to update the brand's signature mini dresses.
But it wasn't all good. Oversized proportions is something that has been doing the rounds since last season so it came as no surprise that Rousteing tapped into it but the oversized 80s power dressing pieces felt like a step too far and it was a shame. Since taking the helm Rousteing has made a good start in pushing things forward and ushering in a fresh twist, so it was disappointing to see him go down such a literal 80s route and take a step backwards.
Zoe Saldana wearing their embellished silk and leather mini dress
As a brand that has infamously sold simple t-shirts priced at a whopping $1,625, it would be safe to say that Balmain isn't cheap. Their prices have become so high, even in comparison to other luxury brands, that many believe that the launch of their lower priced line, Pierre Balmain, was in response to all of the criticism.
Thanks to The Outnet, you can still get your hands on the mainline but without the usual costs involved. As of tomorrow, the online retailer will release a series of their signature pieces, like the above embellished dress worn by Zoe Saldana, for you to get your hands on. The discount goes up to 80% off with one pair of trousers being slashed by almost £6,000. I must worn you not to expect super cheap prices. After all, this is Balmain that we're talking about but with shirts at around £500, it's probably the cheapest way you'll ever be able to buy into the brand.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Cropped embossed patent leather trousers, £1,934 from £9,670; Gold leather and suede skirt, £1,304 from £6,520; Embellished silk and leather mini dress, £3,874 from £19,370; High rise embroidered silk skirt, £1,433.25 from £4,095.
I've never been a huge fan of US Elle's covers and sadly, their Kristen Stewart June cover was noticeably weaker than the actresses over covers this month. For July, though, they're on good form. For the issue Selena Gomez takes centre position wearing a strapless Dolce & Gabbana dress on one cover and a Balmain top on another.
The shoot is just as good as the cover and sees her looking all grown-up wearing brands like Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent. In the accompanying cover story she talks about all the things you would expect, ranging from her relationship with Justin Bieber to trying to fight the 'Disney' image.
While the cover works, it does leave you asking questions. Granted, Gomez has a huge loyal following but as Coco's Tea Party points out, that audience is completely different to Elle's readership so why they decided to book her for the cover is a mystery.
When Rihanna stepped out in this blue Emilio Pucci pyjama suit at a press call for her debut movie, 'Battlefield', she made a statement in two ways. Firstly, the singer's decision to sport the style on the red carpet showed that the trend that has been gaining pace and resonance over the past season has officially moved in the consciousness of the mainstream. More than anything else it proved that dressing, particularly for the red carpet, doesn't need to mean that comfort must go out of the window.
It's this feeling that Stella McCartney developed last season at her S/S12 show. After all, it was her relaxed silk pyjama styles that started the current fascination with the style. Since showing that collection brands like Balmain and Celine have tapped into it with their respective pre-fall collections and according to the Guardian, the high street are lapping it up too. Whistles, H&M and Topshop have all reported that the trousers are proving a hit in their stores and are selling out fast.
As someone who spends the majority of my writing time in comfortable clothes sat in my home office, the idea of working in something that felt as comfortable as pyjamas without being the real thing, was an instant draw. But the big question is how did this new found love for comfort happen especially in an industry where most women are glutton for punishment when it comes to their sartorial choices? After all, there is a reason why people are touting it as the most unlikely trend of the season. In my noble opinion I think it is a sign of big changes. A few years ago we were all in the thick of Balmain fever where everything was about the bling, the sequins, the shoulders and the equally garish and ultra mini dresses but over the past few season things have changed. With the economy as it is, our clothes are one thing that we can't afford to be restricted by or worry about and as McCartney continues to prove, comfort and fashion are not diametrically opposing notions. But that's not it. As many retailers have noticed, the great thing about them is that transcend generations. Unlike season past where the pieces would look strange on anyone above a size 10 and on beyond the tender 20s bracket, this look is resonating with women of all shapes and sizes.
So the only question now is will you sport the style this season?
Olivier Rousteing really put his stamp on Balmain this season. Under his direction the elaborate details that Balmain is known for are still there but now it's a lot more casual and cool but in an understated way compared the brand's 'more-is-more' mantra in the past.
Take the opening look for example. The top was covered in gold and white embellishment with a rose detail in the middle but was paired down with simple black trousers. A pair of embellished trousers with a simple knit top tucked in in that Emmanuelle Alt way had the same feeling. For the first time in a few seasons the collection included pieces that felt fresh and different and something you really want to wear. While there were some odd balls like a blue cropped leather jacket teamed with a pair of velvet trousers, on the whole, the collection marked a step in the right direction. The new boxy shape of the jackets worked and was a welcomed departure from the skin tight shrunken styles of old.
I think I can safely say that I was just about the only person that didn't go crazy for Victoria Beckham's March cover of Numéro Tokyo cover but this cover of i-D's 'Whatever The Weather Issue' is by far my favourite cover story from the designer.
In the Josh Olins shot story, Beckham shows off her post-baby body in Rochas and Balmain and in the accompanying editorial she discusses everything from drawing on her own insecurities when creating those much-loved corseted dresses to the content of Harper's wardrobe.
Will you buy the issue when it hits newsstands on Thursday?
On Saturday the cast of 'Gossip Girl' celebrated the show's 100th episode at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Chloe Moretz has been at just about every event over the last few weeks so it was no surprise when she popped up on the red carpet. The young actress, wearing head-to-toe Stella McCartney was joined by Leighton Meester in Balmain and Blake Lively in Versace.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim aren't the only ones in the hot seat this season. After the sudden departure of Christophe Decarnin last season, the reins at Balmain have been placed in the hands of 25 year-old newbie, Olivier Rousteing and the pressure is on. Balmain is big business so there's not much room for newcomer's errors, especially during these precarious economic times. That said, Rousteing did well.
Having worked under Decarnin for the past two years, it to be expected that the collection would not steer too far from what we've seen in the past. Jackets were the centre of attention, naturally, coming in embroidered gold and white styles - a colour palette that popped up throughout the collection. Dresses and skirts remained super short and the tops tucked into belted trousers continued the aesthetic that Decarnin and Emmanuelle Alt mastered. But he did introduce some new elements like a subtle floral print on dresses and small additions like the use of wide length trousers added a more classy feeling compared to the OTT and over-exposed style that they've been churning out for the last few seasons.
But the biggest challenge for Rousteing is moving the brand forward and that's not an easy task. While their 80s jackets, over-expensive denim and embellishments worked really well two or three seasons ago, there's quickly feeling dated and samey so if Balmain wants to remain a frontrunner, we'll have to see something different and soon.