All in honor of life in the fast lane. At Balmain, creative director Olivier Rousteing turned his eye towards downhill and Formula 1 racing for its seminal definition of the active man. “There’s something authentic, masculine and sexy in the style of those athletic icons,” said Rousteing about his inspiration, citing Niki Lauda, Angel Nieto, and Jean-Claude Killy in his notes.
In homage of these pinnacles of sportsmanship, Rousteing worked on the graphic nature of their get-up for his summer. Predominantly black and red, with white, navy and the occasional mustard yellow or denim to switch things around, the collection felt fair literal in color as in shape. But it wasn’t as rigid as protective gear tends to get. Balancing it out were softer textures and the odd piece done in denim were more downtime than race time, and that balance grounded the collection. Par for the course at Balmain was a little touch of extravagance in the form of intricate Native American inspired beading that dressed perfectos and tux jackets.
But referencing the past isn’t about reminiscing, it’s about creating something relevant for the here and now. It amounted to expanding on a theme without falling into a high-priced caricature. And in this, harnessing the craftsmanship of Balmain’s prized ateliers makes for pieces that are luxurious but not decadent. This directional compass is what makes Rousteing’s work at Balmain a blueprint for luxury brand reinvention.