You knew the moment when you heard Kurt Cobain's strained, familiar voice that the mood was being set for one of defiance. "I was just a kid during Nirvana's heydey, but their powerful music of rebellion definitely marked me then - and continues to resonate with me today", stated Olivier Rousteing after the show. Balmain's Autumn/Winter 2017 presentation saw the creative director step away from his trademark body-con silhouettes, with form-fitting styles taking a back seat in favour of relatively looser looks. In stark contrast, embellishment was back in full force at the designer’s show in Paris yesterday, with strategically placed cut-outs and jungle-inspired colour.
Across 80 looks, the Balmain woman segued from jungle princess to urban warrior to leather-clad dominatrix, via a riot of tropical colour, animal print and sleek skins. Rousteing imagined the Balmain army having embarked on the perfect road trip, picking up influences from the Serengeti and Amazonia. The collection’s many animal patterns, prints and illustrations alluded to the women's impressive inner strength.
Fringing, metallic mesh and studded gold rivets brought ample movement to the looks as the models sashayed down the runway. While they were visually alluring, they also added an added sense of protection, as if the Balmain woman's armour extended out, like an aura or a barrier.
There was also plenty of texture, with the leather looks complemented by a selection of highly styled suede, tweed and fur pieces, as well as plenty of intricate knits. A loose-fitting mid-length shearling coat with a waterfall collar typified the new silhouette, which was deftly balanced throughout the collection by skin-tight suede leggings or thigh-length leather boots.
It goes without saying that the themes of rebellion, rioting, and freedom are highly relevant in today's times. And the need for inner strength and possessing a sense of armour - strong protection against darker forces - is in demand. Olivier Rousteing delivered a masterclass in how-to-dress-like-a-modern-day-warrior yesterday. His Autumn/Winter 2017 presentation will no doubt enthrall his loyal fans, but by design, should also appeal to a new audience who need his current vision of freedom and rebellion. In other words, a way to be bad-ass.