Although “Wonder Boy” premiered in French cinemas back in 2019, Olivier Rousteing confessed that he is nervous that the documentary — about the search for his biological parents — will begin streaming on Netflix in 170 countries on June 26.
Among its revelations are that his birth name was Claude Olivier Conte, that he is of Somalian Ethiopian descent, and that his mother was 15 years old when he was born. “She was a kid,” he weeps in the sometimes wrenching film.
So consider the resort 2022 collection something of a catharsis for the designer, who wove references to the Horn of Africa with his very Parisian take on fashion, and without forgetting his upbringing in Bordeaux or the legacy of founder Pierre Balmain.
“I think it’s one of the most personal collections I’ve done in my entire career,” Rousteing said during a preview, wearing a silk shirt and harem-style pants in a bright, blotchy print.
It was also one of his most diverse, surprising and assured collections, with a wealth of bold patterns and rich textures balanced with simpler shapes. There was a nomadic, beach-y vibe that felt new for Balmain, exemplified by roomy ponchos, pareo skirts, silky caftans and loose tops and dresses sliding off one shoulder.
Rousteing did not abandon sharp and demonstrative tailoring, and his staple, six-button jackets shared the showroom racks with languid, crinkled styles that fastened loosely on the side with fabric ties. He also went to town with the archival Labyrinth monogram introduced last year, splashing it on giant hobo bags, slippers, wrap skirts and crop tops, but in varied colors, scales and textures, including tone-on-tone jacquards.
“The clients really like it, so we played with it even more,” he said.
Likewise, the men’s collection ranged from hefty bomber and denim jackets groaning under the weight of their gold studs or crystal embroideries to languid ensembles with extra swags of fabric and apron-like panels. If you follow Rousteing on Instagram, you’ll notice his relaxed, 1970s-tinged SoCal-meets-Ibiza uniform of late.
Posing for a photo with his two house models, Rousteing had assembled a microcosm of a modern, open, culturally diverse Paris that is worlds away from the stereotypical “Parisienne.” “I’m proud to represent that France,” he said.