Inside The Mind Of Olivier Rousteing

What was the designer thinking when he agreed to take Balmain up the H&M street?



Olivier Rousteing in person looks just like his Instagram selfies – a graceful, dusky-skinned man with groomed brows, killer cheekbones, a supermodel pout and a lean physique that’s currently ensconced in a grey T-shirt, sharp charcoal jacket and matching pants. He’s wearing Balmain, of course – the cut of the jacket tells you that right away. 

The twist? He’s actually wearing pieces from the Balmain X H&M collection, which drops in Singapore on 5 November.


At a recent preview in Paris, I saw recognisable Balmain signatures such as sharp tailored jackets, perfectly cut leather bombers, sexy bodycon dresses, feminine blouses and high-waisted pants, in materials like velvet and silk satin. They were richly embellished with rope braiding and pearl beads, and graphic elements like wide black-and-white stripes and oversized zips.

For menswear, there were the requisite sharp blazers and leather jackets, along with bold sweatshirts and slouchy trousers including a drop-crotch track pant. 

It’s Balmain’s first collab. “It’s once in a lifetime, so it was important that this collaborations was nailed and perfect,” says Rousteing, who at 29 is the youngest creative director of a major fashion house. 

“It had to look luxury, unique and couture. You want Balmain, you need to make sure it looks luxe. It was challenging for me to respect the prices and to get luxury in their store. But we made it happen.”

“Olivier had a very strong idea of what he wanted to do for H&M – these key pieces he had created over the five years he’s been at Balmain,” adds Anne-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s head of design. “He wanted to do a big collection. It’s around 45 pieces now; he had 20 more pieces in the beginning.”

We find out more about the partnership in a personal interview with Rousteing.

Did you have a muse?

There’s no muse at all, it’s like more what the high street wants to get from Balmain. Thanks to my Instagram and my social media, I know the items people love.

How did you achieve Balmain at H&M prices?

It was interesting for me as a designer to go in for less craftsmanship, using different techniques, different fabrics. At the end of the day, we had to make sure it could be affordable.

Were you a bitch to work with?

I was really perfectionist about the collaboration, but so was H&M. That’s really important, that we were on the same page.

Who is this collection for?

This collection is really global. You can find beautiful tailored jackets, velvet bodycon dresses, leather pants – this collection is for people who love travelling and partying. 

Click through the gallery above for a peek at Rousteing’s sketches for the collab. And see all the lookbook images from the H&M X Balmain collection here


For the full interview, check out the November 2015 issue of ELLE Singapore.

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