Slowly but surely, Olivier Rousteing is inching away from the house that Decarnin built. The young designer's second menswear collection for Balmain continued to squeeze the shred and scuz from the collection, taking it in a more refined direction. The progression is happening by degrees—according to Rousteing, by design—which is either savvy conservation of the favor the brand already curries, or a revelation that bikers and Byronic heroes share more sartorial ground than you might imagine. Maybe both. Rousteing chose the latter as his inspiration. He was thinking, he said, of the elegant officers of Russia's Imperial Army, mixed with a dash of Nureyev. Voilà! Soldierly double-breasted waistcoats and long cotton band-collar shirts.
But in many pieces, Rousteing's troops meet their grittier friends, the flash-and-trash rock gods of old Balmain, in the middle. They can still wear the padded motorcycle jeans Decarnin developed as a signature piece, apparently, only they take theirs in red velvet and silk. And they'll wear the double-breasted officer's coats, which are also a label staple, only accented with passementerie, braided and beaded details taken from curtains and interiors—the sort that hung in the czar's palace.
Fall 2012 Menswear
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