Dear Shaded Viewers,
As I sit here trying to find the words to describe the Balmain Fall 2023 collection, I can’t help but feel a sense of reverence for Olivier Rousteing’s tribute to the house’s iconic New French Style. This season, the designer has gone back to the brand’s roots, reinterpreting its signature looks for a contemporary audience. It’s a testament to the enduring power and sustainability of timeless designs created by Paris’ finest artisans.
The runway was packed with references to the founder, Pierre Balmain, from the intricate maze monogram to the bows, pearl-defined polka dots, and deconstructed tailoring with twisted lapels. But it wasn’t just a rehash of the past. Rousteing has updated Balmain’s classic looks with 21st century technology and contemporary craft, using materials like threaded neoprene and high-shine PVC-like fabrics.
The result was a collection dominated by sculptural pieces with angular silhouettes, constructed from lavish fabrics, and accented with pearls, crystals, and furry accents. The color palette was mostly black and white, with a few bold exceptions, like an iridescent green dress with pagoda shoulders and a fluffy tinsel purple coat with exaggerated lapels. And while many looks added volume to the shoulders, others were designed to reveal them seductively, with fabric wrapped intriguingly around them.
This season’s presentation was considerably more subdued than previous ones, a departure from the brand’s attention-grabbing spectacles. But that doesn’t mean it lacked opulence. The pieces were luxurious yet timeless, with an impeccable attention to detail that reflected the emergence of the “stealth wealth” trend. Balmain has proved once again that it can stay true to its DNA while putting its own stamp on the brand.
Overall, the Balmain Fall 2023 collection was a celebration of the brand’s history, founder, and iconic New French Style. It was a collection that looked to the future, while staying rooted in the past, a feat only a house with Balmain’s pedigree could achieve.