#balmain#mencollection Spring 2020. #menstyle#oliverrousteing “How fucking amazing was that show?” asked Darren Criss. Maybe a thousand or so people roared in reply, a human cacophony that indicated they thought it was very fucking amazing indeed.
How clever of Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain to lean into Paris’s longest night, the summer solstice tradition of street drinking and live music to present this season’s menswear (liberally sprinkled with womenswear) collection as a free show/concert. Criss had just finished a cover of Prince’s “Kiss” and was about to launch into Joe Dassin’s “Champs Élysée” when he asked his critical question. Shortly afterward, Rousteing shimmied out from backstage to belt out a verse via his signature sumptuous pout.
Just before Criss opened tonight’s musical entertainment, Rousteing led his models onstage, and it was fascinating to watch from our privileged wristband position the hundreds of arms raised in smartphone supplication towards him and them. Yes, this was a benefit gig from which all profits went to Bono’s RED HIV-tackling charity (the margin-generating Parisian food and drink stalls on site smelled very good indeed), but the Insta-cloud of hashtagged positivity will surely be highly positive for Rousteing’s brand. From our little raised gantry at the side of the stage in which tattooed rappers smoked weed and scowled in studied delight as sinuous model types shimmied thigh to thigh and moued with intent, it was pretty hard to see the clothes. Luckily a preview, with Rousteing in full flight, set us straight.
There were some bananas biker jackets in mirrored PVC or embroidered cut transparent plastic and a lot of very strong slouchy tailoring—I adored a draped double-breasted suit in black silk and the cut of built-in-cummerbunded pleated pants. Rousteing said he wanted to imagine the Balmain man (and woman) 50 or 60 years hence, which made sense. The trench-coat skirts for men were hilariously subversive (in a good way), especially when pastelized.
A side note: It was so good to see Rousteing at the Off-White show earlier this week, because this snooty fashion world often overlooks what a catalyzingly powerful force he w