As you’ve likely heard, French luxury power house Balmain announced they would be the next high fashion line to collaborate with Swedish retailer H&M. The union was officially announced during the Billboard awards but really broke on Instagram first via a Kendall Jenner selfie; the perfect move for a collab that Olivier Rousteing is calling the campaign for his generation, bringing the iconic French fashion house to the masses in an affordable way. The move may seem like a new-age push in to the future of high fashion but it’s tied to vintage roots from Balmain’s longstanding alignment with beautiful women in the public eye and music culture. Long before hip-hop performers were singing about Balmain, Peter Starsted sang about the designer in his 1969 single Where did you go to my lovely in which he sings “your clothes are all made by Balmain.”
Everyone from Vogue to Pop Sugar immediately began to speculate what the collection might include other than the pieces already sported by Jenner and fellow supermodel Jourdan Dunn during the awards. As of-the-moment as Balmain is under the direction of Rousteing, the 29-year-old designer identifies key aesthetic elements innovated by Pierre Balmain upon the conception of the French fashion house post-WWII as some of his key influencers. In an interview (above) with Youtube channel The Business of Fashion titled Inside Balmain’s Digital Revolution, Rousteing says, “I think my aesthetic for Balmain today and obviously what I wanted to do from day one is [keep] the DNA of the house born really before Christophe with Pierre Balmain. Obviously, this [is an] amazing brand [that] always believed in a really strong woman, the beautiful silhouettes of Jolie Madame, which I think was really really important after the war. [Styles] that were also highwaisted, really strong belts. He was working a lot on the tailoring. Tailoring [on] jacket[s] was really important and also, the couture aspect, like the embroidery. I think that’s an aesthetic that was always loved and on the other hand, amazing haute couture for Pierre Balmain. So I think this is DNA that belonged to the brand since day one”. The French designer went on to say that where his predecessor Christophe Decarnin was more in to streetwear, he leans towards glamour working to keep the couture element that Pierre Balmain’s aesthetic was known for. He also cites Oscar de la Renta’s time with the company as a source of inspiration. Watch from the 4:15 mark on for Rousteing’s full explanation of his approach to the iconic Balmain aesthetic.
The sexy silhouettes, iconic blazers and sultry slits on the hottest models, socialites and stars of its day are the very things Balmain has always been known for. After all, he along with Christian Dior is responsible for The New Look of nipped in waists, full skirts and flattering silhouettes. A clip from Australian newspaper The Age dated August, 1, 1956 (shown below) details the success of Balmain’s Jolie Madame line. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the collection will include the kind of tailored glamorous pieces Balmain has always been know for and that just maybe some pieces from the heavily 1970s influenced 2010 collection will make an appearance as well. The Balmain for H&M collaboration will hit stores November 2015.
Australian Newspaper The Age dated August, 1, 1956.
Balmain. (L) 1957. (R) 1961.
Balmain. (L-R) 1961, 1964, 1950.
Balmain. (L) 1953. (R) Carol Baker, 1964.