Last April, the staff of Balmain announced the appointment of 25-year-old African-Frenchman Oliver Rousteing, the brand's first designer of color. In an industry where it is difficult for designers of color to succeed, this youthful newcomer brings with him a myriad of qualifications and talents. For the past two years, he has worked under Christophe Decarnin, who left the house due to medical issues in February.
After much anticipation since the big appointment that he would step up to the top seat at Balmain, the designer presented his first runway collection for Spring 2012 in Paris. The tone of the collection changed minimally, in fact, it got even more Vegas than usual, minus the rock-n-roll trash factor that we loathed from seasons before.
To the fashion industry, or just to me at least, Olivier taking over Balmain is the equivalent of Obama being inaugurated as President of the United States. I'm just saying.
Although Rousteing isn't American, he is a designer of color, and one that is going to be here for a while to come. The collection was very well received, and it was much expected. Some were expecting a total change in the aesthetic, while others like myself were left satisfied by the continuation of the glamorous, skintight silhouettes.
My guess: It's probably safe to say that the Balmain customer won't flee en masse and that Balmain will continue to be a successful brand under the influence of Olivier Rousteing, who was probably designing long before he was getting credit for it.
Balmain breaks the bank, we know this, but now I say the Balmain customer is getting her monies worth under his direction. The pieces from their latest collection are luxe, embellished, and are sure to get you a few free award travels if you are using your Citibank Amex.