PFW: BALMAIN S/S 2016

Balmain S/S16
Balmain S/S16

Apparently, one of the big trends this season is having an actual orchestra at one’s runway presentation. We’ve seen a couple of smaller takes on that theme since Burberry went whole-hog on the concept a couple of weeks ago, and now Olivier Rousteing takes his turn bringing in a string-heavy ensemble playing an unlikely mix of Michael Jackson and French Sacred Art songs, which only French music majors recognized. Good thing I know a couple of those.

We expect sleek, sexy, and polished from Olivier and that’s exactly what he gives us season after season. As usual, he plays with all the trends. Bare shoulders? Check. Layered ruffles? Check. Diagonal ruffles? Check. Large-holed knit mesh? Yep. All of the above on the same look? Absolutely. The result? Twitter nearly exploded over the exposed nipples of certain celebrity models. There was a brief moment when some wondered whether even more was left visible, but no, everyone was wearing their big girl panties today, thank you.

What makes this collection stand out? The most noticeable thing are the stiff collars on several of the pieces, surprisingly similar to what we saw on several Ann Demeulemeester pieces right before this show. Some are patent, some are brass, and none of them look especially comfortable. They will certainly keep one’s posture in check, though. The cross-your-heart bodices are a nice touch, especially when paired with fishnet or the knit mesh. At least with those you know everything’s covered up top. Belts are a bigger deal this season, too, as Olivier is really pushing that hour-glass figure look. Hmmm, I wonder which broad-hipped celebrity he had in mind for those?

There’s plenty of suede, tons of chiffon, and no small amount of metallic thread woven into the mesh. Olivier knows how to do hot and sexy well and these are pieces that will look great in editorials next spring. Now, if you want to actually wear one, I suggest maybe going in with perhaps a dozen other girls who wear the same size; about $300 a piece should cover it. Each person gets to wear it to one event, and then consign that thing so you can buy another. Seems like a workable plan, doesn’t it? Certainly easier than gettting your own reality TV show. Maybe.

Of course, Olivier is so busy giving celebs and their wanna-bes what they want, he’s missing out on the real creativity. He totally blew it with mermaid-train dresses. The train was continually caught between the models’ feet. Two stumbled, but fortunately none fell (that I saw). Still, this is a mistake a more creative Rousteing wouldn’t have committed. Remember, back when he wasn’t quite so worried about being commercial? We miss those days.

So yes, Balmain spring/summer is everything you want it to be. Maybe next season Olivier will take it more in the direction of what it should be.

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