On last week, cyberspace and armature fashionistos were all abuzz over the presentations of the Fall 2014 menswear collections. The major player that most caught my eye was Olivier Rousteing. Rousteing is the 28 year old young black guy that’s at the helm of perhaps one of the most prestigious European fashion houses, Balmain. Balmain, whose collection has become synonymous with $4000.00 embellished pants, has also become a favorite of rock and pop stars such as Rihanna, Kanye West and Beyoncé. Olivier Rousteing history is colorful and consistent in achievements. After being placed in an orphanage, Oliver Rousteing was adopted and raised in Bordeaux, France. Rousteing’s career began at 18, when he dropped out of law school and left his adoptive parents in Bordeaux. “I got a little bored,” he says. “My parents wanted me to be an international lawyer, but I wanted to do something I felt passionate about. I didn’t want to lead a quiet life.” He moved to Paris to study at ESMOD, the Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode. In 2003, he graduated and pursued his passion all the way to Rome, where he joined his Italian boyfriend and knocked on the gilded doors of every fashion palazzo until finding a home at Roberto Cavalli. “I considered Roberto and his wife, Eva, like a second family,” he says. “They helped me grow professionally and as a person. He was then quickly promoted to the head of the Italian label’s women’s ready-to-wear collection, where he served five years as creative director.
After five years with Cavalli, Rousteing took another gamble and wrote directly to Christophe Decarnin, then creative director of Balmain. “I loved his shows, his creativity, his strong personality,” Rousteing says. “And I loved Balmain’s past — the beautiful silhouettes and Oscar de la Renta’s couture.” In 2009, Olivier Rousteing was hired by Balmain as a designer for the brand’s women’s ready-to-wear line. He worked closely with, Christophe Decarnin, the French fashion house’s creative director since 2006, building a style similar to that of his mentor, creating an ultra-feminine rock and roll silhouette. On April 26, 2011, the 25-year-old, Olivier Rousteing replaced Christophe Decarnin as the creative director for Balmain, gaining full control of the production of both the men’s and women’s read-to-wear lines. He presented his first collection for Balmain during the Spring/Summer 2011 shows in Paris. Vests with striking shoulder pads, studded dresses, gold hues, and bare legs defined Rousteing’s first runway collection. The designer still holds the reigns of the French fashion house today. His creations blur the boundaries between haute couture and ready-to-wear, with an architectural approach to tailoring and a flair for Baroque embellishment that few of his peers can rival. “This shit is art, like you don’t even wanna touch it!!!” Rihanna posted on Instagram. Prince wore Balmain in his latest video. Kanye West is a fan (natch). Still, Rousteing has not forgotten one of the chief lessons from his mentors. “When I started working for Christophe, it was the sexual aspect of his work that I really found interesting,” he says. “I’ve kept this sexual force because it’s important for a man or a woman to arouse. That’s something I learned at Cavalli.” His vision for the Balmain man is a blend of the classic elegance embodied by Yves Saint Laurent and the late French singer Serge Gainsbourg (the inspiration for Rousteing’s spring 2014 collection), and the sexual ambiguity of George Michael and Michael Jackson. His current style icons are Pharrell Williams and Frank Ocean.
With his high cheekbones and glowing cinnamon skin, he has captivated the fashion industry. His sex appeal would be paralyzing were it not for his boyish charm. Becoming creative director of a legendary brand at the age of 25 would go to anyone’s head, but Rousteing credits his staff for keeping him grounded. “Even when I start acting like a diva, they remind me where I come from,” he says. Rousteing is one of the most leading creative forces of our generation. This is evident in his young age acceptance into the high snobbery echelon of established European Couture. I encourage you to research not only Routeing but also Balmain and let me know if you disagree….
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