Spring/Summer 2016 Balmain

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The #BALMAINARMY was out in force at Le Grand Hotel in Paris, where Olivier Rousteing’s all girl squad – Kendall, Gigi, Doutzen, Isabeli, Joan, Alessandra, Jourdan, Binx and both the Lilys – perfected their march for commander general Rousteing, who informed us in the show notes that this season would feature different elements from previous collections.

His upcoming collaboration with H&M made him comb his own Balmain archives, reminding him of the wealth of material that was “the result of four years of hard work,” he said. Four years is a long time in his industry and as a result he deemed it time to introduce new ideas for spring and to broaden the Balmain DNA.

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That most prominently manifested in tiered ruffles (flounce is shaping up to be a big story next season): they cascaded on trousers, along sleeves, and bib-fronts adding a romantic femininity to the fierce sex appeal of the whip-stitching, fishnets and strong shoulders also out in force. This new found softness also rippled through via a pretty pastel palette – the nude tones, like the new silhouettes, all served to temper Balmain’s customary opulence.

Rousteing credited the power of the house’s social media presence as a vital ingredient to its success in moving forward, confident that all the dresses we saw would be shared and shared again on various platforms very soon. Despite the slight irony that the brand once again chose a venue with dreadful reception making it virtually impossible to get a signal to share instantaneously, he’s right. Expect to see your style feeds flooded any day now.

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Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Balmain

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Those transfixed by Kim Kardashian’s new platinum blonde hairdo, which she debuted on the front row at Balmain, were shocked from their trance when Alessandra Ambrosio opened the show in full, in-your-face, wham-bam, glamazon glory.

She entered in a cut-to-the navel, floor-length, mustard pleated gown, belted with glossy leather. Glamour is to be expected at Balmain, but the fab-factor was dialled way up.

Vintage undertones ran deep here – if it was J.W. Anderson‘s job in London to banish the Seventies revival in favour of the Eighties, then Olivier Rousteing has picked up the baton in Paris. Although Rousteing’s show notes claimed a Seventies reference, most of these proportions – and that fierce femme attitude – felt more at home in an Eighties context.

When the collection did riff on the Seventies, then that was visible in the billowing chiffon jumpsuits, printed with popping florals and finished with a ruffled décolletage.

A focus on proportion asserted itself in wide-leg ballooning flares in fine, high-shimmer fabric, pin-tucked to accentuate the pertest of derrières, which were divine; think Pleats Please meets Kim Kardashian and you’re part way there.

In fact, Rousteing may have a #BalmainArmy but Kim was clearly the muse inspiring this collection. The newly blonde bombshell looked particularly taken with a pair of sheer lace kick flares, worn with a sheer lace top tucked into a high waist, and cinched with a wide, pearl-embellished belt.

And below the waist? Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the cover up. These clothes were designed to be less fleshy than what we have come to expect from 28-year-old Rousteing. He chooses long-legged, glowing, robust-looking girls to walk in his show (the kind of gloriously sexy goddesses you’d find walking the Victoria’s Secret runway) and there’s always oodles of skin on display. Legs when visible were in tights – a low, possibly eight-denier by the looks of things.

This was of course an autumn/winter collection, so perhaps that explains the long-sleeves and the heavier handwriting, but it must have been about more than seasonality. Perhaps this woman wants to trade less on her sexuality and more on her talents; let’s face it…

The Balmain woman is so fierce she doesn’t feel the cold.

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