Balmain – RESORT 2022 MENSWEAR



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Cosmology says that the universe constantly expands. When it comes to the universe of Olivier Rousteing, the same applies. Coming to Netflix on June 26 is the documentary Wonder Boy: It follows Rousteing’s fabulous and fixatedly-driven lifestyle at Balmain, as well as his search to discover his parentage after being adopted as a baby. Spoiler alert that doesn’t spoil the film: His mother is Somalian and his father Ethiopian. Your genetics and parentage define neither your soul nor your being, but as I witnessed in my own father (who was given away through a classified newspaper advertisement when he was seven days old), not knowing who your mother and father are creates a swirling void at what is otherwise the core of your identity—and you constantly wonder.

This exuberant resort collection, both for women and men, is Rousteing’s rendering in the métier he loves of the existential expansion that the discovery of his parents’ identity has unlocked in him. Since that discovery he has been unable to visit either Somalia or Ethiopia (pandemic issues), but is itching to go. Instead he has been researching the Horn of Africa from afar and was particularly moved by a visit to the exhibition Divas, from Oum Kalthoum to Dalida at the Arab World Institute in the town that is his home—Paris. This inspired in Rousteing some of the jewelry—particularly the great chain-chinned baseball cap look—as well as an affinity to the story of the Egyptian-Italian and iconic-in-France singer Dalida. More broadly, you could see the unstructured design and pattern on the tapestry fabric in look 28 of womenswear or look 17 of menswear as a geographically more specific creative coordinate.

Running alongside all these marbled and blended and pattern-flecked codes was a near-constant referral to the labyrinth pattern invented by Pierre Balmain himself and recently resuscitated by Rousteing from the archive. Here the labyrinth looked especially great when rendered in angularly colorful 3-D print on the silk pieces that were worn by Rousteing during our call. These topped striking shoes in fur both faux and shorn from long-haired goats in the goat-milk industry, so cruelty free. Said madly Muppet-ish stompers—imagine wearing them on a dance floor—looked like contenders as the next-in-line-hit furry footwear in a lineage last filled by early Michele Gucci and before that late Philo Céline.

But back into that labyrinth, the most appropriate possible motif for a collection which demonstrated so handsomely that one must first be lost in order to then be found. For the new audience of global citizens that will soon find Rousteing and his highly relatable story on Netflix, this collection should make excellent follow-up viewing.

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Sean Mitchell

Author at Pynck

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