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Paris Fashion Week Coverage: Balmain Fall 2012

In a race to prove the elitism of French aristocracy over the rest of the aristocracy of Mitteleuropa, high court fashion became increasingly elaborate in Paris during the 18th century. From towering wigs to lavish, jewel-adorned garb, there was no precious stone unturned in the quest for style that reflected what the Versailles vaults were sadly lacking. The French Revolution erased the gluttonous indulgence of the upper class. The nobles who survived the guillotines and firing squads of the enraged proletariat embraced simpler fare as to blend with the masses. Balmain’s runway is a return to the opulence of pre-Revolutionary France, blended with the design house’s rock ‘n roll signature. This collection was absolutely breathtaking, as rich needlepoint, strips of tiny pearls, gold embroidery, and baroque details adorned every trim, boxy surface.

Designer Olivier Rousteing was inspired to decorate his clothes with tiny seed pearls and plush embroidery because of a Fabergé egg (specifically, the Fabergé egg that Richard Burton gave to Elizabeth Taylor). Square cut jackets and skinny trousers were elevated to couture levels by their intensely crafted embellishments. As stripes appear to race over the surface of the clothes, a closer inspection reveals that they are the result of hand-sewn pearls, paved onto the trousers and mini-dresses with painstaking care. Embroidered velvet in a relaxed, slouchy fit created a cool silhouette on the Balmain runway. Luxe leather vests and tops, and quilted jackets comprised several of the latter looks. Though the touchstone for this collection is a memento from a doomed dynasty, this collection establishes Balmain’s new reign over the French fashion scene.

written by GRACE GORDON|photos: courtesy of GoRunway

-March 3, 2012

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