runway PARIS

Conquering the Runway: Balmain

The models strutted down the runway like victorious matadors, or conquering heroes returning from war, wearing their spoils on their backs. They smirked, they sneered, they pouted, each being an individual, perfect example of lush, glorious manhood in bloom. But they dazzled. And enchanted. And inspired.

When a brand gets as much press as Balmain does, it can get boring fast. And Balmain is a name that flies around the media (and the Kardashians) with such ubiquity that expectations are lowered. But when the House of Balmain resurrected itself from its frumpy, dusty past, it proved it had the mettle to make a renewed success of itself. It caught on with the public quickly and became a brand to reckon with.

Far from relaxing into boring success, designer Olivier Rousteing brought forth this new collection like it was a gaudy, luxurious steamroller, taking no prisoners. Everything looked new and innovative. The cuts of the trousers, with their high waists, narrow legs and almost-gimmicky dropped crotches looked fashion forward. The long, robe-like coats made loungewear look like eveningwear, and the cropped jackets

flattered like a second skin. The gold bullion, the medals, the buttons, the epaulettes, the cording, the fur, the fringe, the tassels, the beads and sequins, the colors, the precision of the construction - all of these made for a lusty, gaudy show that left guests awestruck.

Notable was the navy blue velvet suit with its double-breasted jacket lassoed with a black leather cumberbund belt, skinny trousers and a matching trench coat; and a finely fitted jacket of quilted black leather paired with an exquisite pair of matching quilted riding boots. A long, belted smoking-type jacket, as slim as can be, with the same quilted leather was astounding, as were the sleeveless wrap coats. Metal detailing on the shirts?

The scrunched-down elbow length black leather gloves… the black-on-black paisley pants with the matching trench worn over a referee-striped shirt… Fabulous.

At the end of the show, Rousteing (who actually looks like he wears the clothes he designs) might as well have riden down the runway on a flatbed truck hold a sign saying, “Mission Accomplished.”

Yeah. This is definitely not your grandmother’s Balmain.

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