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.
Just about every major designer and model has descended on New York last night ahead of the Met Gala on Monday but ahead of the event, Balmain's Olivier Rousteing threw a big party last night at Chelsea's Hotel Americano. At the event the designer spoke about the launch of the brand's new Twitter and Facebook accounts that became live this week, revealing that he plans to get in on the Twitter action himself. 'It's a good way to understand what [customers[ feel about the collection, about the clothes and they can see the details, and they can be more a part of my soul,' he told The Cut at the event. 'I hope they will 'like us' and enjoy what we enjoyed to create.'
Aside from that, what was more interesting was his revelation that Joan Smalls is his guest at Monday's event. The partnership definitely works. Smalls looks good in everything but it will be interesting to see how she looks in a piece that showcases the new direction that the young designer is taking the brand.
That wasn't the only Met Gala confirmation from last night. Karlie Kloss will accompany Jason Wu, Anja Rubik is going with Anthony Vaccarello and Constance Jablonski will attend with Haider Ackermann. New in today is that Arizona Muse is teaming up with Erdem, Thakoon with Christina Ricci and Doutzen Kroes with Roland Mouret. The most interesting confirmation is that Karolina Kurkova will attend with Rachel Zoe, cementing her as a designer to be reckoned with.
See images from the Balmain party in the slideshow.
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.
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.
Back in May we told you that Balmain are currently working on a diffusion line and the first images from Pierre Balmain are finally here. Rather than having the brand's new designer Olivier Rousteing overseeing the new line, the house has reportedly brought on an 'independent design team' to work on the project.
The collection was long coming. As much as we loved their statement accentuated shouldered jackets, I can confidently say that my bank balance has never been too fond of them so the diffusion line is definitely a step in the right direction. Although things are picking up, designers and big houses alike are still feeling the pinch of the current economic situation making the trend for diffusion lines an ever growing necessity. So, let's talk prices. The collection, which will launch for SS12, ranges from $174 for tees to $944 for suits.
Balmain has announced its head designer, and as rumours implied, Olivier Rousteingwill takeChristophe Decarnin's place. Rousteing has led the label's women's wear studio since 2009, when he joined the company after five years at Roberto Cavalli.
As for Decarnin, reports say he's been gone from Balmain since early this year, and it's speculated that he was admitted to a mental hospital. Decarnin was notably absent from his Fall '11 show in Paris this March. It's unclear whether Rousteing had a large hand in that show - and it's yet to be seen whether he'll keep Decarnin's signature shredded and sparkly designs at the forefront of the brand.