Shock and awe isn’t a new tactic in the fashion world. In fact, shock and awe is the axis at which the planet of fashion revolves around. This is especially true concerning the rise and fall of a creative or an artistic director of any well-known establishment, house or label. In the spring of 2011, fashion headlines everywhere ran with the story of Christophe Decarnin parting ways, after only five years, with the luxurious house of Balmain. The aftermath of that colossal earthquake news was his replacement, Olivier Rousteing. A young, fresh faced twenty something year kid who spent a few years assisting Decarnin. A virtual unknown. And the universe buzzed. Would Rousteing triumphantly rise to the occasion or would he fail? Would he push the label farther than Decarnin or send it plummeting to its death? So many questions, doubts and fears. But in his short stint at Balmain, Rousteing has managed to surprisingly prove most of his critics wrong. He not only has kept the label afloat but assisted with its continued rise in popularity with the hot, young and rich crowd. And unlike another young designer*, suddenly thrust into a gigantic pair of shoes at Balenciaga, Rousteing found his footing instantly and silently, gained the necessary momentum needed to push Balmain into a dominating and influential position. His creative approach, a cautious mixture of preserving the house’s decadent aesthetic and Decarnin’s flamboyant exuberance was an instantaneous hit. And like Sarah Burton, Rousteing was unofficially crowned the Midas of fashion, turning everything he touched into gold. (Burton was named creative director at Alexander McQueen in May of 2010, after the designer’s tragic death)
Fast forward to Paris Fashion Week. On September 25, 2014 the fashion crowd and critics gathered, eagerly awaiting the golden boy’s latest sensation, his spring Pret-a-Porter 2015 collection. Heavily influenced by pop culture and the red carpet sirens he frequently dresses, Rousteing’s most recent work is…dismal and unoriginal. There was no brilliance. No boldness. No opulence. From the sleek bondage influenced pieces, the overexposed body parts, to the impeccable tailoring, the runway told a tale of an unexcitable story. It read boring, had a sort of rushed assembled-like quality and appeared as though he designed it for a lone individual more or less, not for the masses. He is quoted saying the influential muse behind his spring collection is pop starlet Rihanna and while there is no harm in having an inspirational figure as muse, perhaps Rousteing should have put more thought into using her as a creative point of origin rather than the finality as the birth of his collection. In the September issue of US Harper’s Bazaar, he said, “I think fashion is like sex…when you do the show, that’s the orgasm.” Well sir, if the Paris show was our infamous romp in the sack, I am one (of many) dissatisfied lover.
*Next post, I’ll talk about Alexander Wang’s spring collection at Balenciaga!
For more of the collection, check out www.style.com!