A more all-inclusive Balmain. That was the takeaway from Olivier Rousteing's Pre-Fall collection. Not only in terms of dollar signs—although he is adding cotton sportswear separates to the lineup and making new forays into knitwear to bring the high prices down—but also in terms of whom it's made for and who's buying it. "Sometimes fashion is a bit close-minded," he said at his showroom. "I'm black, and I want to push [the idea] that Balmain is for different cultures, different ethnicities. It's for all the girls in the world."
To get his message across, Rousteing looked to boundary-crossing photographer Peter Beard, especially the pictures he took of a young Iman in Africa. The collection blended the zebra and leopard prints Rousteing found in the Balmain archives and safari-inspired Saharan jackets with hip-hop chic crop tops and track pants. "That's me, my generation," he said, pointing to the lattermost pieces and alluding to his recent affiliation with Rihanna, who stars in the label's Spring campaign.
The 28-year-old designer has done a lot of growing up over his three years at the helm of Balmain, but he's only really coming into his own now, a point he made literally clear by those track pants. They're borrowed from his men's line, and they're what he wears on a day-to-day basis. "Girls are always asking me what they are in my Instagram pictures," Rousteing reasoned of their inclusion among his women's offerings. Like those pants, the variety of sweaters here proved he has a real affinity for everyday cool.
But of course, Balmain wouldn't be Balmain without party clothes. The designer, who does some nightclubbing of his own, confirmed that Beard's playboying ways also factored into his appreciation of him. Rousteing's freshest idea in this department was a long-sleeved leather tee tied high at the waist above a little mini—a good fit for a woman like RiRi.