For over a decade, Olivier Rousteing has been the Creative Director of the house of Balmain. During those ten years, Rousteing has been carefully building upon the legacy of the house’s founder, Pierre Balmain, who famously introduced a fresh, feminine and surprising “New French Style” to post-war couture.
Beginning with inspirations directly pulled from the house’s rich archives and fully utilizing the Balmain atelier’s impressive mastery of intricate traditional couture techniques, Rousteing has been able to skillfully graft his own distinctive style upon the historic house. He is, in fact, creating a modern and inclusive new New French Style—one which melds together an immediately recognizable singular silhouette, a contemporary outlook reflecting Rousteing’s own extraordinary personal journey and a spirit pulled directly from the avenues and boulevards of a transformed-yet-eternal Paris, the dynamic and diverse fashion capital that has influenced every Balmain collection for over 75 years.
Early Years, Education and Italy Born in 1985, Rousteing was adopted from a French orphanage at a young age and raised in Bordeaux. He studied fashion at Paris’ Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode (ESMOD).At 18, he moved to Italy, where he worked at Roberto Cavalli for five years, beginning as an intern and rising swiftly and steadily through the ranks to the position of Designer for the men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections. When the opportunity arose for him to return to Paris to work at Balmain, Rousteing seized it, forming a part of the house’s design team for two years before being named Creative Director in 2011.
Far From Typical When Olivier Rousteing, then 25, was selected to head Balmain’s design team in 2011, he became one of the youngest talents ever named to lead an historic Parisian fashion house. Rousteing is very conscious of his unique background and position—as well as the exciting opportunities for change that this moment presents. “I’m definitely not the typical Creative Director of a major Parisian house,” he explains. “And, as an outsider who somehow made it into a position of power, I am determined to use this occasion to shake things up a little and push for needed changes. There’s a rapidly changing world that’s just outside our design studios—and I am constantly inspired by the new powerful state of mind and beautiful diversity of today’s streets. That’s why I will always push for honesty, direct communication, true inclusion and democratization within fashion.
I’m determined that my collections will always reflect how today’s generation wishes to live and dress. I also can’t stop weaving in influences from all types of music into my designs—because that’s how we grew up. For us, music and fashion are seamlessly joined together, and It’s impossible to separate one of those arts from the other.”
More than 75 years ago, when Pierre Balmain first introduced his “New French Style,” it immediately became clear to all that his eponymous house was offering a distinctly fresh, bold and feminine conception of haute couture, one which broke with many of the well-established conventions of the era.
His audaciousness paid off. Pierre Balmain became one of the handful of young French talents who ushered in the mid-century’s golden age of couture and helped to re-establish Paris as the world’s fashion capital. For more than ten years, Balmain’s Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing, has been inventively building upon Pierre Balmain’s extraordinary legacy, while always remaining true to his own determination to design clothes that reflect the way his inclusive, powerful and global Balmain Army wishes to live today. The result is a unique and instantly recognizable Balmain silhouette, style and attitude that highlights the singular craftsmanship of the house’s celebrated ateliers, while consistently referencing a rich Parisian heritage.