Olivier Rousteing fell hard for Miami on a visit there earlier this year; the trip influenced his lively Resort collection. For Spring, he dug into the Latin theme, calling out Cuba as an inspiration backstage and using its black-and-white tile floors and wicker chairs as reference points. They rematerialized on his Balmain runway today as graphic harlequin prints in the spirit of Gianni Versace and as dresses painstakingly created from basket-woven raffia. Rousteing's other touchstone: the early-nineties heyday of Linda Evangelista and her fellow glamazons, working major shoulders and men's trousers with high waists for photographers like Peter Lindbergh and Steven Meisel.
That era has become a major flash point this season, and it makes sense that it should resonate with Rousteing. At 27, he's too young to remember those days personally. Two decades later there's still a lot of power in those power suits, and there's absolutely no arguing with the persuasive appeal of a simple skin-baring black leather bandeau and miniskirt. What tripped him up here was twofold. To start, he could've shaved an inch or two off those shoulders—they would've read as more modern. And for another thing, the embellishment factor was a factor too high. Some of the dresses didn't look all that different from the Cuban chairs that inspired them.
Rousteing's exuberance is hard to fault. But he was on to something with those simpler leather and denim pieces. A little less couture aspiration and a little more cool would be a good place to start next season.