September 28, 2011 Paris
Considering his tender age (he's just 25), and the stakes (Balmain became a relatively big business in its boom years), we'd say Rousteing fared fairly well. He has clearly absorbed the babes-in-beads look that Decarnin and his stylist Emmanuelle Alt made famous, but he sagely put his own spin on it. Despite the familiar skintight silhouettes and the short hems, the trash factor was gone.
Still, elaborate embroideries remained the name of the game here. Rousteing looked to Nudie Cohn's rhinestone-covered Nudie suits and traditional toreador costumes for inspiration. "Mixing the tailoring of Mexico and the glamour of Vegas," was how he described his MO for Spring backstage. He also name-checked Oscar de la Renta, who preceded Decarnin, and Pierre Balmain himself, indicating, in so many words, that he'd like to bring a bit of class to this act.
So there was a new softness to a wallpaper-floral motif rendered in pastel silk embroidery on an hourglass dress, one that was echoed in the baby blue and white print of the opening trousers. Ultimately, those pieces made up a small part of the collection, but they may prove the key to Rousteing's success. Despite what the business guys at Balmain are looking for, the crowd assembled today doesn't want a watered-down rehash of Decarnin's successes. They want a new kind of sizzle. Negotiating that divide will be Rousteing's big challenge going forward.