French designer Olivier Rousteing placed his Fall/Winter 2022 collection for Balmain under the signs of protection and vulnerability. A personal theme that was particularly close to his heart, stemming from the scornful judgments on social networks he was subjected to following the disfigurement of his body after he was burnt and left ashamed at being permanently scarred by an October 2020 explosion in his home.
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Rousteign said in the notes for this show that the collection was a “push-back against lies, hate and aggression”, a statement that unfortunately dovetailed with the events in Ukraine.
“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”, he posted on social networks shortly before his show. A statement that joined the one developed also in the notes of the collection: “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”.
And what about the proposals on the runway? Most of the clothing was designed like padded armor. Outerwear like bulletproof vests, shields or motocross gear were paired here with more fragile ones cut from lace or precious fabrics. This stark contrast was also reflected in the palette, contrasting delicate hues such as whites, creams and pastels with darker ones such as the ultimate black.
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