Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain show has become such a magnet for fans and paparazzi that the police shut down the street outside the entrance to his Hotel Intercontinental venue today. Rousteing’s own social media fame may not be at the level of the Kardashian clan, but when it comes to designers, few can touch him. Only Jeremy Scott and Riccardo Tisci come close.
His online following made him an ideal candidate for the H&M collaboration going on sale next month, a point Rousteing made explicit in his notes: “While this 15-minute presentation is designed to create strong impressions and reactions, it’s during the upcoming six months when the designs will make their mark. Social media’s embrace of Balmain will provide us with daily reminders of the excitement of those who have found a new way to bypass traditional gatekeepers.” Implicit in that statement was a riposte to his fashion-world detractors, of which there will likely be many after today’s show.
Rousteing toned down the color this season to focus on shades of nude, but there was no equivalent dialing-back of the embellishments that have weighed down his recent collections. The macramé was as full-on as ever, and often in crystals or beads, and the tiered ruffles were even more flamboyant than last season’s silk plissé. Those ruffles notwithstanding, the silhouette was super clingy, loaded with cutouts and sheer paneling, and cinched with waist trainer–size belts. Joan Smalls slithered down the runway in short, stretchy green suede, the show’s best look, but the restrictive, tight-fitting tube skirts gave other models problems.
As excessive as it all came off at today’s show, these clothes look great in pictures. Rousteing’s macramé really resonates on a tiny iPhone screen; the proof is in the Spring ’16 outfits Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid wore last night on the town in Paris. #BalmainBooties and #BalmainBeauties temporarily replaced #BalmainArmy as Rousteing’s hashtag du jour. Who needs gatekeepers? The guy’s going to sell millions at H&M.