Again and for another season, style and couture recently had a meeting in the last Paris Fashion Week. And as always, one of the most commented and awaited collections arrived without disappointing anyone, including myself. The era of Olivier Rousteig as head designer for the Balmain house is consolidating itself as one of the most prominent in the history of the brand.
The style that Rousteig brings to his designs are instantly recognizable, as he masterfully brings together his own aesthetics with the inspiration from contemporary trends in the couture world. Also, since he started his career at the front of Balmain, his collections seem to have been evolving one into another, following a creative direction that draws a fine and particular mind from one year to another and that drag us into his artistic world. As we commented in the latest Balmain fashion shows, his Fall 2018 collection seemed to evolve into his Spring 2019 one, as if this last one was a continuation of he creative process in the one before. And this time we can appreciate the same continuity in his Fall 2019, with which he has gifted the world in this last Paris Fashion Week.
That is probably one of my favorite things about the work of Rousteig in Balmain, the continuity and the flowing artistry of his designs and collections. While other designers choose to pick very different inspirations and for each of their collections and follow completely different conceptual lines for each season (for example, Marc Jacobs comes to my mind in this aspect), Rousteig kindly guides us into the continuously evolving flow of style that is his work.
The Fashion Show
As always first of all, let’s enjoy the show, which is as stunning as always with that particular music selection that can only be from Balmain!
The fashion show starts with some creations based on what will be the center of the collection: black. It is true that Olivier Rousteig always uses black as a main pillar for his collections, but in the particular case he has raised it to the category of the clear protagonist of the show. The influence of this color isn’t dimmed as in his latest collection by neon or holographic effects. The elegance shines through a masterful use of this color all through the collection.
The show starts by presenting a few designs where the main vehicle to present this ‘queen of colors’ as Pierre-Auguste Renoir defined it, is leather or wool, always studded or paired with transparencies, that remark even more the visual weight of bold pieces like oversized jackets.
Creations that are based on a unique type of fabric besides being monochrome also populate this collection. As the show develops and evolves, denim, another of Rousteig usual pillars, and white will start to appear to complement the statement that black makes.
Shoes in this collection are mainly based in that leather and studs relationship that we mentioned before. Though we can see mainly boots, there are also a few sandal pieces that also combine patent leather or black velvet with silver and metallic appliances.
Soon, the combinations with white that we have mentioned also gain prominence, being combined mainly also with leather and denim.
A very particular concept resource that Rousteig uses to support this collection is as we have said before, combining the visual weight of bold pieces with transparencies. A characteristic trademark that we will see repeatedly is the mid openings in the pieces that will leave the waist, elbows, and even more frequently, the shoulders, exposed. This will be achieved either with plastics, see-through fabrics or directly with naked openings, that will emphasize the structure of the pieces.
Tweed will also appear as a central pillar of the collection, accompanying wool, and combinations of materials and effects will be interleaved with block outfits, such as denim ones.
At this point of the show we will see appear another of the chracteristic features of this collection: fabrics that are worked in the shape of floral references, specially roses or carnations. This is a collection where Rousteig has left aside the majority of his recently most used ‘special effects’ such as iridescent and holographic finishes or bold colors, but this embellishment will appear through the collection in many designs and is an innovation in his resources that is introduced in this collection.
Fringes, on the other hand, are a very used and common resource in his creations, and also appears in this collection combined with a great variety of fabric and finishes, nearly always in black or white.
The two pieces above are in my opinion one of the most gorgeous of the collection. The combination of two of his most characteristic features, transparent plastic fabrics and studs, are combined here masterfully over the naked body or elegant white pieces, giving a great deal of boldness to the accessories such as belts or shoes. It is amazing how he recreates the concept of leather without using it, just alluding to it using the structure of plastic and the character of the studs.
Half way into the show, a few glimpses of color, mainly under saturated ones, are presented through the textures and fabrics used before. The floral/carnations designs are once again seen, and then mint and pastel purple take the place of black being the center of a few designs.
The colors are presented both in a uniformity of fabrics and also in combinations of them. I think this brief appearance of color is a small breath of fresh air into the collection. I doesn’t overshadow the importance of the elegance in the decision of keeping the collection mainly toned down, and still it adds a little lightness to it. We can observe how amazingly the effect of a design can change just changing the color of it: though the same resources are used, these pieces give a much more innocent and fresh appearance without losing any of the elegance.
In the final stretch of the show we are presented with some of the most stunning designs of the collection. Rousteig uses a few resources that he has prominently used through his work at the front of Balmain, such as lace, asymmetrical structured cuts and more transparencies.
Here are introduced the chest openings that are the center of quite a few of his final designs. Very bold pieces are often compensated with transparencies in the chest, which is a very distinctive characteristic of this particular collection in my opinion.
The effect achieved with this is frankly amazing and this last part of the show leaves us with a great sensation of couture raised to a higher level.
At the end of the show we see all the artistic resources used through the collection interlinked one more time, going back to black to close the circle that Rousteig drew with his creations. The most chic designs are seen in this final part, and the show closes in the most elegant way.
Sequins make an stellar appearance in these final creations, enhancing the chicness of the designs. Long capes are also prominent in this last pieces, as well as once again the openings in the waist area, asymmetries,combinations with patent leather, and white blouse fragments that are used as a complement for these stunning pieces.
All in all, this collection deviates from his last ones in the sense that elegance here bears an even greater significance.
I can see a lot of influence of the work of for example Thierry Mugler, in this conception of elegance as an otherworldly feature that must be honored, but I also appreciate an evolution within his own work, and many references to his own creations.
Olivier Rousteig without a doubt consolidates himself as a true haute couture designer with this collection, leaving aside all of his usual ‘special effects’ to focus on the solidity of the pieces.
A collection to be taken seriously.
As usual, the focus on Balmain shows is on the pieces and models wear a natural, almost no makeup look not to steal the light of the designs. In this case anyhow, we can see the use of very minimalist accessories, mainly this metallic chain headband that is repeated in quite a few of the looks.
Skin doesn’t look either too matte or too dewy but perfectly balanced and radiant, which is a basic characteristic of Balmain fashion shows: models look perfectly flawless without using makeup as a creative statement, just letting it enhance their features and letting their natural and individual beauty shine through.
Another important feature of this show that is also an innovation in relation with the latest Balmain collection is the appearance of berets: these are used to emphasize the Parisian chicness of the pieces, using leather and studs to give boldness to the designs.
Overall, the look is like always fresh and polished.
Details, Accessories and Shoes
Here I have made a selection of the most important and beautiful detail shots that were made during the show.
I love to observe the final designs (that encompass the designs, the shoes and the accessories) in a closer way so I can appreciate all the passion and care that were put into their creation.
Most of the features that we have talked about can be further appreciated in these shots of an indisputable beauty.
We can also appreciate that, as well as in the outfits, leather and studs are the leiv motif that bring all the creations together through their use in the accessories such as bags, belts and shoes.
Plastic transparencies can be better appreciated and we discover that even more resources than the ones we initially noticed are used, for example these nearly iridescent sequins that are paired with denim here down below.
The freshness of the very few colors used, mint and pastel purple as we said, is even more appreciable when the whole effect that they create in combination with the choice of fabrics is observed closely.
Patent leather makes truly a bold statement that is conveyed perfectly with all the different textures that are given to it through the collection.
And that is all!
As we mentioned before this is a collection that followed the path that Rousteig himself was tracing in his last collections for Balmain but at the same times breaks with it taking his creations a step further with this truly unforgettable elegance statement.
I hope that you enjoyed this collection as much as I did and I expect to see you all really soon!
Lots of love.