WHERE ELEGANCE AND FLAIR MEET
PIERRE BALMAIN: THE NEW FRENCH STYLE.
Drafted in World War II, Pierre Balmain began his career as a couturier in Lucien Lelong's studio, working alongside Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. In 1946, he founded his own fashion house and began producing incredibly feminine and sophisticated collections, in which embroidery, nipped-in waists and extravagant skirts contrasted with the functional, utilitarian styles of the times. In 1952, Balmain branched out into ready-to-wear. His designs were hailed as the ‘new French style’, characterised by highly structured pieces with a touch of contemporary flair. His figure-hugging suits and strapless dresses with puffball skirts won the hearts of the American market, and the designer quickly became Hollywood’s sweetheart, with stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren clamouring to wear his designs. Pierre Balmain designed the iconic wedding dress Audrey Hepburn wore when she married Mel Ferrer in 1954.
Following his death in 1982, the fashion house made it a point of pride to uphold its founder’s trademark boldness. In 1992, Oscar de la Renta gave the company a new lease of life with his flowing, elegant designs, while Olivier Rousteing ushered in a grungier period from 2011 on, choosing Kate Moss as the face of the brand.
THE ROUSTEING GENERATION
With over five million Instagram followers to his name, Olivier Rousteing is an international sensation. Yet despite the globe-trotting selfies and appearances with Rihanna and Beyoncé, this young man is French through and through. Adopted by a Bordeaux couple as a one-year-old, Olivier Rousteing left south-western France at the age of 19 to study fashion design at ESMOD Paris, graduating in 2003 and honing his skills at Roberto Cavalli.
Balmain contacted the designer in 2009, offering him the chance to head up the design studio alongside artistic director Christophe Decarnin. When the latter left the company in 2011, Olivier Rousteing became artistic director at the tender age of 25. This was the chance of a lifetime to imbue the brand with his own personal touch and vision: glitz, bling, sexy, graphic shapes and rock ‘n’ roll cuts, underpinned by the house’s traditional values and hallmark style. Iconic in its unique, contemporary designs, the Balmain of today is a masterful blend of archive references and pop culture elements taken from the 1980s through to 2000.