Fashion
  • Text Sophie Coleman
  • 30th September 2016

Olivier Rousteing unleashed a new animal for Balmain amidst a jungle clad runway – a redefined notion of sexy power-dressing, the raison d’etre of the iconic French house.

Primal sensuality shone through with splices and skin-revealing cuts – deep v-neck lines or thigh-high slits, sheer panels titillating glimpses of breasts and a bustier appliqué top. While staying true to several Balmain heritage points – theatricality (founder Pierre Balmain also designed theatre costumes) and sharp tailoring (defined shoulders on snug snakeskin jackets, nipped in waistlines), there were fresh new elements in play. Rousteing’s star-studded model line-up swanned out Veruschka-esque bronzed figure hugging, flowing maxi dresses and pantsuits; woven metallic and technicolor knits, a new area for the brand following first glimpses at Balmain SS17 menswear earlier this year; and metallic billowing dresses – such fluid, free-spirited lines, lengths and textures less often associated with the house.

With Balmain having changed ownership in June to Mayhoola, a Qatar-linked investment group, this continued softening and expansion of the brand’s aesthetic clearly serves Rousteing’s vision for a global empire and broader influence in Asia, Middle East and beyond (cue snakeskin kimino or red emperor dress detail). As Rousteing said, this show “marked a departure for his army”.