Body armour, tactical gear, protective gear, and compression pads may have been conceptualized months ago as a symbolic motif to highlight a personal theme for Olivier Rousteing, but they inevitably caught the eye in a different light on the Balmain catwalk last night.
Creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing made a statement on social media (ironically, the cause of the original theme) just before the show that read: “We are well aware that there are more important things happening in the world today. It’s hard to feel right about focusing on runways and clothes, as we listen with a heavy heart to the latest news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ukrainians. We are inspired by their dignity, resilience and devotion to freedom.”
The show notes elaborated: “These runway offerings were not designed as a direct response to the recent horrific invasion of our neighbours and I would never dare to even think of comparing the suffering that they are going through right now with the problems that I have had on social media. Still, as we watch the news, my team and I do keep in mind this collection’s message: united in solidarity, we can rely on the power of hope and truth to push back against hate, lies and aggression.”
To open the presentation, a battalion of dancers dressed as soldiers and wearing helmet-style hats put on an unique performance at the Le Marais venue. They appeared to be fighting one another, as if they were in a battle, until the two lead soldiers kissed dramatically. The show then finished with a set of seven or eight gowns that blended the collection’s themes with some of Pierre Balmain’s hallmarks, initially written onto the runway in October 1945 during the house’s first ever exhibition. Balmain’s vision was the fashion green shoot most in the vanguard of Paris’s post-war restoration and development, even before Christian Dior.
After Armani, Rousteig became one of the first designers with commercial weight to acknowledge the inability of a serious industry that sells the seemingly trivial to confront and discuss its relationship with the horrific now. It was little in comparison to the acts of bravery that we are all witnessing right now, but it was something.