Balmain Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2013 Paris

It is nothing new to see a designer referencing his youth through his fashion shows. But as Olivier Rousteing is just twenty-six years old those formative years aren’t really that far off. And they certainly continue to have a huge sway on this young designer.

Inspired by the iconic 1990s singer Sade, and the colorful city of Cuba, the designer produced a collection that was breathtaking in its complexity. Pants came crafted out of raffia woven like a basket to encase the legs. Short dresses reproduced the look of caning found on the seats of chairs. And jackets were marvels of texture, using thick lace, chunky beading or embossed leather in their construction.

Besides showing off his craftsmanship and his undeniable talent with embellishments, Rousteing also played with volume. Pairing high waisted pleat-front pants (often in a graphic harlequin pattern) with linebacker wide shoulders on tops and jackets. The designer was right on the mark with his graphic diamond patterned and striped pieces, as it is a major trend of the season. But his outsized proportions felt out of synch with where fashion is going. The exaggerated silhouette looked like a caricature of a style that the designer’s predecessor established for the brand.

Rousteing needs to find a new sartorial outlet for his talent and an original way for the world to hear his voice without the baggage of Balmain’s recent past.

- Jessica Michault