Balmain: Welcome to the virtual front row
Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz and a gang of Vogue and Elle editors showed up in Paris on Wednesday night – even if only virtually – at the latest Balmain show.
Each of them appeared on their own flat screen, projecting them watching from the comfort of their own home or offices – from Beijing and Milan to London and New York. Allowing them, and several of their dogs, to witness Olivier Rousteing’s logo-drenched Spring/Summer 2021 collection for Balmain from the front row.
It felt good to be back at this designer’s latest opus – staged with great gusto on a nippy fall evening inside the Jardin des Plantes, where last summer he held a mega show and late night concert.
Guests gathered on two enormous bleachers with social distancing, with 50 noted editors, a handful of VIPs and the odd professional walker projected on their own flat-screens. During the show, some took calls, others texted, a few admired their own reflection, nobody yawned.
Principally because Rousteing delivered a powerful fashion statement, where every second look featured a dense archive logo print. Seen in pagoda-shoulder tuxedos, naughty dressing gowns and femme fatale cocktails for gals, or rock dandy blazers, lounge suits and award winning smoking jackets for dudes.
Olivier is such a showman, he opened his own show walking the length of the 80-meter catwalk to pose on a nightclub singer’s bar stool as six veteran French models circled around him – all in logo outfits.
"All my career I’ve tried to maintain the prevalence of good taste, and of French elegance. And I believe that I hold the key to a French elegance, a measured and Cartesian elegance," explained founder Pierre Balmain in a vintage interview projected over loudspeakers, mixed up with Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
Rousteing’s own combination telegraphed the silhouette – an elongated blazer, with drop lapels, worn over flared pants in stretch. A style worn in various materials by boys and gals in his coed show. Followed by some dazzling day-glo sexpot cocktails, and brilliantly dazzling asymmetrical and barely-there mini cocktails. The models marching out from a wood of giant plane trees amid huge clouds of dry ice.
"There is a touch of sex in fashion now," added Pierre, who never said a truer word, as the huge cast strutted to classic 80s rock anthems from Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode.
"Balmain was founded in 1945 right after a terrible war, and we’re living through a war of a different kind today. And, maybe the response to that trauma is freedom, as Pierre Balmain suggested, and today freedom often means sexual freedom too," concluded Rousteing.
In a word, that’s what you call a real fashion show. And a statement and celebration of the whole métier.
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