Feb 28th, 2019, 06:00 PM

Balmain's Olivier Rousteing: A Universal Force To Be Reckoned With

By Jacinda Carlisle
Balmain SS 2019, Paris Fashion Week. Image Credit:  Courtesy of Balmain
Olivier Rousteing and his Balmain Army, SS 2019, Paris Fashion Week. Image Credit: Courtesy of Balmain
How does Olivier Rousteing champion diversity and inclusivity for the French luxury fashion house?

Balmain, under Olivier Rousteing's creative direction, has garnered dramatic global brand growth and unprecedented notoriety. The French luxury fashion house has a firm design identity.

With a design philosophy rooted in modernity and innovation, the French-born designer is taking the fashion world by storm. The youngest creative director in Paris since Yves Saint Laurent, Rousteing assumed the creative direction reins of Balmain at the age of 24 and has been on a continual trajectory of distinguished acceleration.

Balmain SS 2019 Ready-To-Wear Collection, Paris Fashion Week. Image Credit:  Courtesy of Balmain

In an interview with American Vogue, Rousteing describes his current  debut Spring/Summer 2019 haute couture designs as the perfect marriage to historical Balmain fashion: "Of course, the house is known for being edgy and sexy and glamorous. Here, it’s all about bringing back Balmain to the elegance of la France. Everything you see will give the sense that it’s taken from the ideas of Mr. Balmain.” 

Amassing a Balmain Army comprised of his little black book of famous faces including  Beyoncé, Jane Fonda, Bono, Rihanna, Claudia Schiffer and Jennifer Lopez, Rousteing commandeers a global audience. Additionally, his legion of Instagram followers not only catapults the Balmain house to enormous heights, but vehemently speaks to the far-reaching popularity of the Bordeaux-born designer himself.  

Rousteing draws inspiration from the strength of women, with his design aesthetic rooted in empowerment. “A woman who is going to wear Balmain is a warrior,” he told British Vogue, “...The women I dress are powerful, they are strong, they are women who are going to change the world.” A powerful advocate for diversity within the fashion industry, Rousteing's latest campaign adequately addresses  this prevalent issue with its blatant universal display.



Iconic 🙏🏽🙏🏿🙏🏾🙏🏼

A post shared by OLIVIER R. (@olivier_rousteing) on

Janet Jackson, 1993. Image Credit: Instagram @olivier_rousteing          

This philosophy is the basis for the house's promotional campaign. Playing fashion designer-turned-model, Rousteing recreated the buzzed-about photograph together with photographer Dan Beleiu and actress, model and friend Cara Delevingne for Balmain's Spring/Summer 2019 campaign. He was paying homage to the 1993 Patrick Demarchelier portrait of Janet Jackson and in what he told WWD was "a big pop culture moment of his childhood."                                                                                      

Balmain SS 2019 Campaign. Image Credit:  Dan Beleiu, courtesy of Balmain

Rousteing's vision for the campaign lies deeper than the photographs themselves, telling British Vogue, "although the campaign images are very sensual, there is nothing flirtatious about them.” And, that the messaging is not about ’90s nostalgia, but inclusivity: “The campaign shows the reunion of two skin tones, one black – or mixed race – and one white. Choosing to pose naked was all about authenticity. We’re going back to basics: I wanted something pure and transparent.”

Along with authenticity, diversity and inclusivity, the campaign represents global unity, offering an opportunity for much-needed discussion in our current global landscape. As for Olivier Rousteing and all of humanity, long may he, diversity and inclusivity reign.