Balmain Serves Grunge with a Side of Savagery for Fall Winter/2017

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The recherché Balmain woman was rewritten as a kind of rebellious warrior queen with a predatory lust for finery.

“Here we are now, entertain us,” Kurt Cobain’s snarling refrain in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” poured from the speakers at Balmain, and Olivier Rousteing delivered. The cross-pollination of “Nirvana on a road trip through the Serengeti, the Far West and Amazonia,” depicted by both the show notes and the runway looks meant the recherché Balmain woman was rewritten as a kind of rebellious warrior queen with a predatory lust for finery.

Cobain’s notorious anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian values are fundamentally at odds with the celebrity and consumerism peddled by high-end fashion, but the grunge movement he started has made a lasting mark, regardless. Grunge bucks the system, preferring secondhand clothing, instruments, and idealism as its arsenal of choice. Rousteing wanted to channel some of that rebellion, but thankfully, he did it without harping on tired 90s trends. Instead, he plucked wolf-themed scenery from a New Mexico truck stop tee – the kind of thrift store find that would have thrilled a grunge kid – and patchworked it with reptile skins, goatskin, chains, and studs. Models played the part of Glamazons with corn-rowed hair, smoky eyes, and mile-high boots. By blending kitsch, extraordinary craftsmanship, and aggressive styling, he ended up with a new look that still read Balmain.