Olivier Rousteing certainly knows how to get tongues wagging. The trick seems to be as easy as taking two famed starlet models and transforming them with a change of hair color. For Fall/Winter 2016 at Balmain, Kendall Jenner went blonde, Gigi Hadid went brunette, and Instagram went crazy. Further fodder for the gossip mill also came from the Kardashian clan who attended the show, along with Kanye West who sported a bespoke pearl-studded, blinged-out hoodie. If you want to see just how far their influence goes, take a look at Balmain’s new silhouette – or should we call it Bell-main’s new silhouette. Padded hips and bell-curved mini skirts harken to a certain famous bum, which was strangely absent from her usual spot on the front row alongside her family. Nevermind that; at least West was backstage to pronounce, “She’s the source! The whole collection was based off Kim,” just in case you had any doubts.
Subdued moments aside, this collection was clearly inspired by and made for Kim.
For those without enhancements, the fake-out curves offered Kim’s proportions, but a Balmain dress is as costly as a more permanent solution. For the moment, however, let’s remove celebrity gawking from the equation and focus on the clothes. Instead of his typical 80s grandeur, Rousteing focused on modernizing his aesthetic, removing pointy shoulder pads and replacing them with sleek fitted sleeves, shoulder cutouts, and lampshade ruffled necklines. The silhouette was predictably fitted, with waists narrowed by wide lacquered belts, laced corsets, and silk bustiers.
The palette was quite beautiful, with muted pastels acting as the perfect canvas for Rousteing’s wrought-ironwork embroidery. Surfaces were further amplified by intense rows of tassels – a step up from fringe, but imbued with the same eye-catching motion. This decorative asset was worked to especially lavish heights on a gown worn by Hadid, which featured tiny pearl embellishment on thick velvet that ended in double-tasseled layers. It swished down the runway with hypnotic ease. Other decorative elements came in the form of baroque wallpaper silks, which were tailored tightly to the body on skintight separates, plumped skirts, capelets, and gaudy, glittering maxis. Even though the looks were beautiful and quintessentially Balmain, the eye eventually tires of moving over so much gilded embroidery, which is why quiet wool capes in peachy cream shades really stood out. Subdued moments aside, this collection was clearly inspired by and made for Kim, but her influence is so far-reaching now that it offered options for everyone who aspires to be her as well. This is something Rousteing innately understands, and a marketable asset he can take to the bank.