Balmain Paris Fashion Week F/W 2015

“I wanted to look at the seventies in Paris—but for me, it doesn’t mean the flares—it means the diversity, when so many strong women, white, black, Asian were modeling,” Olivier Rousteing was saying passionately, backstage before his show. That’s something he linked to the heart of the matter spelled out in the written statement he released to journalists: “As recent events have reminded us, France has a long and proud history of defending essential liberties . . . that open-minded spirit is also something that sets Parisian fashion apart for fall/winter . . . We celebrate that Parisian tradition as well as the evolution of my city into a truly global melting pot.”

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Rousteing’s relevance is elsewhere. He’s in charge of a good-times brand. He celebrates the shift in a culture—toward celebrity, framing a new totally done, top-to-bottom presentation of the female body. Bottom-focused it is. As we deduced at Max Mara, too, the triumph of the Kardashian cultural tendency is that the correct answer to the question “Does my ass look big in this?” is a resounding yes.And that is a revolution in itself—something unheard of in the seventies or eighties.

His accordion-pleated pants, in their many forms, outlined and emphasized and trained the eye upon every retreating back-view. Whether knitted, or boldly printed, or as part of flowy-legged jumpsuits, their point was to be the opposite of minimizing.

There’s a strand in the fall collections by young designers that defies the surrounding darkness by piling on the glitter. Rousteing did that, too, with plenty of copper-beaded fringing swishing from capes, and some all-over multicolored embroideries of palm leaves. He is a sincere-minded young man designing at the center of a multicultural, entertainment, and social media maelstrom. All other judgments aside, he is channeling our times.

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