4th March 2023

Balmain AW23 – Paris Fashion Week

Meg Parrott looks back at the new winter collection from Olivier Rouseing

In the seventy-eight years since the design days of Pierre Balmain, society has arguably shed its skin countless times.  A constant amid this change however, has been the detail-obsessed passion of the House that bears his name.  The Balmain AW23 collection at Paris Fashion Week was no exception, with a new proposition dedicated to ‘timelessness, not time travel.’

Olivier Rousteing’s shows in the past have been grand affairs, but this time he decided to strip back the usual optics of fashion week.  According to him, each look was imbued with “enduring power and artisanal savoir faire,” and it was clear that was where he wanted the focus to remain.

At its core, the designer’s visually poetic story spoke to its underlying ethos perfectly.  By leaning into the couturier’s past, he was adeptly reflecting a demand for modernity with a desire for familiarity.  When Balmain’s Jolie Madame silhouette veered fashion’s trajectory in 1952, it was a new and ground-breaking, architectural view of the female body.   Here, Rousteing skilfully resurrected the iconic shape on the catwalk in a salute to the contemporary woman of today.

Starting with the early years, heirlooms like the polka dot and a penchant for fine tailoring came revised as cinematic vignettes.  Oversized trademark bows, dramatic lines and extravagant ruffled flourishes came in deep cherry red and vibrant teal alongside the favoured monochrome.

In an ode to later decades, the hypnotic 1970s Labyrinth print was now refreshed on luggage, leather pumps and satin maxis for an elevation of the quotidian wardrobe.  Indulging in themes of angularity and underscoring the contemporary need for movement, there were generous proportions and loose draping to heighten the effect.

Furthering this inventive take on the archival, the collection also boasted a collaboration with revered milliner Stephen Jones.  Cloche’s, berets and wide-brimmed wonders were the catalogue’s crowning glory.  And, for Balmain AW23, it’s Rousteing’s muse that is going to be the Queen.


To read our review of the Saint Laurent show from PFW, click here

Click here for more information on Balmain AW23

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