Olivier Rousteing

Now You Can Dress Like a Barbie in Balmain

Now You Can Dress Like a Barbie in Balmain

Ken avatar wears dungarees and jumper by Balmain x Barbie®. Trainers by Balmain. Barbie avatar wears blazer and shorts by Balmain x Barbie®. Shoes by Manolo Blahnik Barbie®Avatars created by Forget Me Not for the Balmain x Barbie® collaboration. Sculpts provided by Barbie®
It makes sense that Barbie would wear Balmain. A style icon since the Eisenhower administration, she’s known to take some fashion risks befitting the French house. But the two are now betting that humans will want to dress in Barbie-inspired Balmain dresses, sweats, and bags. Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has created a genderless collection for adults, inspired by Barbie and Ken, that speaks not only to their tastes, but also to Rousteing’s childhood memories and hopes for the futures. “It’s not only the dream of a designer, it’s a dream of a kid, you know?” he says, adding that as a kid he was told not to play with the dolls. “That I can create a collection with Barbie today shows how the world has changed, and how good it feels to be free with yourself without being judged.”
Barbie x Balmain. Photo: Rob Rusling
Rousteing says he approached this project with two minds: one of a “kid dreaming of Barbie,” and one of a top designer. He took Balmain’s house codes—the Labyrinth monogram designed by Pierre Balmain in the ’70s, the shoulder pads, the oversized gold buttons, even some couture pieces—and incorporated them with Barbie’s visual world to create 50 items of clothing and accessories. In addition to the clothes, the collection is modeled by CGI dolls and three NFTs depicting Barbie and friends in Balmain will be auctioned.
Barbie avatars both wear Balmain x Barbie® collection and accessories. Avatars created by Forget Me Not for the Balmain x Barbie® collaboration. Sculpts provided by Barbie®
As for the pink, of which there is plenty, he created several shades and melded the more dusty pink he’s known for with Barbie’s signature bubblegum shade. One of his prized pieces is a replica of a dress he made for his Fabergé-inspired collection in fall 2012. “I reproduced it exactly in pink, with all the straps and padding and Swarovskis,” he says. On the opposite end of the spectrum of formality is his other favorite item: a sweatshirt with the Balmain logo in Barbie font. These pieces and the rest of the limited edition capsule collection will be available on January 13 worldwide. The collection itself ranges from US $295 to $42,494, prices that speak to the Balmain side of the collaboration.
Photo: Marie Rouge/ Courtesy of Balmain
This isn’t Rousteing’s first time working with Mattel, either. Barbie and Ken sat in the front row of a digital 2021 runway show, and the designer has made doll-sized clothes for her and the Claudia Schiffer Barbie before. Still, Rousteing calls this “a fun collection with a deep, deep message.” The main reason is that the collection is mostly genderless. After all, in a Barbie world, you can create your own rules. “You can be Ken and borrow the clothes of Barbie and Barbie can borrow the clothes of Ken,” Rousteing says, adding, “At the end of the day, you can create a society that is about freedom and not about stereotypes.”
Photo: Marie Rouge/Courtesy of Balmain
Read Next: Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Chloé’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi, and Cedric Charbit of Balenciaga Discuss the Future of the Fashion Show
Originally published on Vogue.com

Balmain Women’s and Men’s Pre-Fall 2022

Balmain Women’s and Men’s Pre-Fall 2022

Is there beauty in imperfection?It’s more than a philosophical question for Olivier Rousteing, who suffered painful and disfiguring burns last year from a fireplace explosion. He disclosed the accident just ahead of his spring 2022 megashow last September, when bandage dresses and tops ruled the runway.
There is yet more catharsis in Rousteing’s pre-fall effort for Balmain, which saw the young designer destroying not only jeans and sailor sweaters, but also his densely embroidered Fabergé egg-inspired dresses — all to dramatic effect.

“I learned from my own experience that you can feel beautiful in imperfection, you can find beauty in scars, you can find beauty in broken things,” he said during a tour of the vast and varied collection in Balmain’s Paris showroom, pausing in front of a mannequin sporting a formfitting gown of pale latex pieced together with gold threads, evoking a shattered statue fixed up like an haute Humpty Dumpty.

Rousteing admitted there were some quizzical looks in the atelier when he proposed ripping holes in dresses and jackets with dense bouillon embroideries, but he won them over by issuing the challenge of “making something imperfect perfect.”

To be sure, here was one of Rousteing’s most raw and rugged collections to date, true to its theme of clashing the baroque splendor of Marie Antoinette with the grunge style associated with Kurt Cobain — along with a dash of high-tech motocross gear.
The Cobain theme played out in a straightforward way in the men’s collection, with lots of striped knitwear, velour hoodies and acid-washed jeans with the knees blown out. Rousteing also paid homage to Cobain’s messy drawings and ballpoint pen scrawling with an array of graffiti prints with provocative phrases and questions like “Fashion is dead” and “Do you still buy magazines?” These appeared on pillow-like 1945 bags and biker leathers morphed into frock coats.
For women, Rousteing’s inimitable brand of bold femininity was on full display with pearl-encrusted jackets, bold-shouldered tailoring in houndstooth checks, elegantly destroyed redingotes with intricate lacing details, and sexy motocross jeans with padded knees.
While Balmain has been a pioneer in the tech space with its virtual showroom in 3D, CGI Barbie collaboration and NFT sneakers, Rousteing is among designers posing questions about the meaning of luxury and the place of craftsmanship in a fashion system hurtling toward the metaverse.
He doesn’t give answers, but thought-provoking propositions scrawled out on clothes: “Offline, logout, unfollow,” reads one T-shirt, which also bears the hashtag #therealluxury.
Rousteing confessed that things like Kodak cameras, cassette tapes and magazines feel like vintage objects, though he did answer one question scratched onto some of his clothes and leather goods.
“I love to buy magazines, but now more as a collector, rather than to just read a story,” he said. “Before it was about discovering things. You were buying magazines like you were watching Instagram. Now I buy magazines that are a bit more expensive. I love the quality, I’m checking the thickness of the cover, the quality of the paper. What I buy now feels really prestigious.”
SEE ALSO:
Olivier Rousteing Reflects on a Decade at Balmain
Beyoncé Praises Olivier Rousteing at Balmain’s Historic Show
Olivier Rousteing Champions Diversity, Inclusivity, Social Media and Couture

EXCLUSIVE: Olivier Rousteing and Porsche Are Collaborating

EXCLUSIVE: Olivier Rousteing and Porsche Are Collaborating

Olivier Rousteing had his first brush with Porsche as a preteen, as his favorite uncle drove one and would take him around to see the castles and vineyards of the Saint-Émilion region in southwest France.
Now the young French fashion designer, creative director of Balmain since 2011, is collaborating with the German carmaker on communication and creative projects. The first step is a short film making its debut today on Rousteing and Porsche’s social channels, part of a video series titled “Drive Defined” slated to run through the end of April.
Shot in Paris and Étretat on the coast of Normandy, the four-and-half-minute film shows Rousteing behind the wheel of Porsche’s latest Panamera model and talking about his inner drive.

Olivier Rousteing in Étretat for Porsche.  Greg Spring

More of a mini documentary and a confessional than a car commercial, narrated by Rousteing himself, the film shows him sketching, draping, styling, doing photo shoots and musing on how pressure drives creativity, and his personal ambition to push boundaries and establish new aesthetics.
Porsche’s manager of content and campaigns Jelena Batic, who is spearheading the collaboration with Rousteing, described the designer as “a perfect fit for us with his desire to make Balmain a modern brand with the highest standards of quality and luxury.”
She noted the collaborative films would examine “the connection between the worlds of sports cars and fashion, which creates relevance for our existing customers, as well as for younger and female target groups.”

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Rousteing said Porsche let him choose the location for the first film — Normandy being one of his favorite places for recharging his batteries — and the spot was unscripted so he could express himself in his own words.
A fan of driving, Rousteing got his license at age 18, and relished the opportunities the collaboration afforded him, including rounding the track in several sports cars at the Porsche Experience Center in Le Mans, home of the famous 24-hour motor race.
“I’ve always loved driving,” he said in an interview. “Whenever I can, I like to escape the city, and I especially enjoy driving in the countryside.”
Rousteing noted that he rarely collaborates with other brands outside of Balmain, but he didn’t hesitate when approached given his esteem for the carmaker.
“I love the timelessness of Porsche, I love the elegance of the cars and I love the passion of driving. I’m a driven person and I feel like Porsche is a driven brand,” he said, lauding the “sense of aesthetics” it applies to all the technical marvels incorporated in the cars.
The carmaker and the designer are planning further joint activities.
“The short film is the introduction,” Rousteing said. “Now that I’m really part of the Porsche family, we’re going to think about creating together.”
Porsche is the latest luxury carmaker to link with fashion as a way to drive a new brand image and connect with new generations.

WATCH: Olivier Rousteing’s first collaboration with Porsche

See also:

How Carmakers Are Using Fashion to Drive a New Brand Image

Olivier Rousteing Takes Window Dressing to a New Level

Tag Heuer, Porsche Forge Wide-Reaching Partnership

Swiss Start-up Spies Potential for Super Upscale Eyewear

Swiss Start-up Spies Potential for Super Upscale Eyewear

Did Olivier Rousteing see the future of designer eyewear when he conscripted Swiss start-up Akoni to create Balmain sunglasses that retail from 500 euros to 1,000 euros?
“We’ve been contacted by numerous fashion houses interested in teaming with us to reposition their eyewear in a similar manner,” said Rosario Toscano, cofounder and chief executive officer of Lugano-based Akoni Group.
According to Toscano, the luxurious and sturdy Balmain frames made these fashion houses “realize that years of licensing deals resulting in high-volume, low-quality gateway products had damaged their brand integrity and that it’s time to realign the eyewear category with the overall quality of the brands themselves. We’re honored by their interest and look forward to the prospect of working with other top houses with whom we share DNA.”

In the meantime, Akoni is launching a signature collection of sunglasses and optical frames for women and men that also retail from 500 to 1,000 euros. They are slated to arrive at the end of the month in premium optical boutiques in more than 50 countries. Toscano declined to give a precise door count.
He likened Akoni’s made-in-Japan eyewear to Swiss watches as they are made in limited quantities using fine materials and realized with a “combination of traditional and cutting-edge production techniques that are costly, time-consuming and increasingly rare.” Akoni frames are made of titanium or cotton-based cellulose acetate, while nose pads are lightweight ceramic.

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California design duo Jeff Solorio and John Juniper, founders of the Dita brand, are credited with the meticulously detailed collection with style names like Leo and Stylemapper, the latter an aviator style with small side shields.

“Jeff, John and I have all been in the eyewear industry 20-plus years and I’ve long admired their work,” Toscana said, describing their aesthetic as “innovative yet classic with a high degree of technical precision.
“They’re truly gifted designers and what they do seems to come very naturally to them. I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he added. “After many successful years with Dita, Jeff and John decided it was time for the next step in their eyewear evolution. I’m grateful to have them as Akoni’s designers.”
Toscano was previously global managing director for Dita Eyewear, where he was behind the launch of Thom Browne’s collection. He has also worked at Sama Eyewear.
He and Akoni’s cofounder Salma Rachid describe their approach as “honest luxury” and “intelligent luxury.”
“The market is saturated with low-quality, poorly made, environmentally unsound products with little or no intrinsic value,” Toscano asserted. “Our designs, materials, craftsmanship, and customer service aim to surpass expectation. Our eyewear is built to last while making you look and feel great. And we’re socially and environmentally conscious, not because it’s good for marketing, but because it’s good for our planet.”
He said the initial drops of Balmain by Akoni sunglasses last year almost sold out, and an optical selection was added for fall.
Akoni plans to launch “additional house brands with their own distinct look and feel,” he added.

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