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TEN DAYS ago Olivier Rousteing announced on Instagram fifty boxes carrying Balmain’s spring-summer 2024 collection were stolen. In a panic and with no other choice, the designer and his atelier were forced to recreate what had been taken from them.

The result remained the same – it was an exceptional showcase of decadent craftsmanship that deserved to be seen.

Not known to tone down glamour nor dilute the House’s legacy, Rousteing turned his back on the current trend of ‘quiet luxury’ and presented a collection that shouted it from every angle. It was bold, colourful and drenched in artistry.

Inspired by archival couture drawings from the late 1940s and 50s, Rousteing was influenced by Pierre Balmain’s use of sculptural shapes and tailoring in his gowns. Unlike the founder, the current creative director is better known for his sharper, linear cuts.

Infusing the two contrasting design styles, soft curves were added to jackets and skirts were pushed out with crinoline.

Another forgotten motif from Balmain’s history is polka dots. Rediscovered and redefined in a more modern context, the collection welcomes them back onto the runway in varying sizes, colours and materials.

However, most notably, SS24 is a celebration of the founder’s favoured flower – the rose. Found in his gardens and in old couture offerings, Rousteing and his team went above and beyond to bring it to the forefront of the clothes; whether it be in embroidery, print or even in 3D using patent leather, latex and porcelain.

Driving the collection forward, and echoing its connotations of love and beauty with every look, he didn’t forget the flower’s thorns.

“I doubt that those who know me will be too surprised by that, since I’ve always loved to expand upon the fascinating tension caused by adjacent opposites and that fondness for oppositions is particularly pronounced in our designs for next season,” explained Rousteing in the show notes.

SS24 steered clear of the norm, of the wish to be understated and instead celebrated the richness of what clothes can be. As much as fashion seems slightly more accessible in its ability to be aesthetically recreated with staples we all own, it’s a different sort of pleasure watching a collection unfold that is extravagant. It’s nice to dream again.

by Imogen Clark


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