Couture Looks Outwards at Balmain and Valentino

At this year’s Couture season, an exclusive event even for those in the know, marked a rather inclusive show first with the re-introduction of Balmain and Valentino’s statement collection.

Since the appointment of Olivier Rousteing at the helm of Balmain, the young creative designer has been heralded for transforming the brand into a buzzy and modern brand. From harnessing social media to his celebrity network and launching Balmain Army, it seemed fitting that Rousteing would tackle another major milestone and announce the return of the storied French house.

The collection was futuristic, experimental and bold. He took his hand at playing with shapes, shoulders jutted out in sharp angular lines, while the hips took curves to a new dimension: dresses with a sphere shaped skirt bounced through.

Rousteing softened these bold lines with a palette of soft, watercolor pastels, sky blues, mint greens and lilac pink were brushed and dripped onto these designs. Although the collection was experimental in nature, Rousteing managed to keep signature Balmain aesthetics with heavy embellishments and tailored looks.

A sense of renewal seemed to be the running thread among the couturiers. At Valentino, Pierpaolo Picciolo said, “couture has to be couture, but you can look at it in a different way.” Paolo took inspiration from two photographs, one taken by Cecil Beaton in 1948 and the other, a photograph of several black women and imagined those women in the dresses pictured in the Cecil Beaton photo. This was mirrored in his casting, a truly modern day couture show.

The clothes were rich in color - regal purple, true red, bright yellows and jewel greens - and in floral detail. These were either cast as 3D origami shapes around the head, painted, embroidered or as sequin embellishments on shoes and snaked up voluminous dresses as vines. The collection was a rich garden of tiers, ruffles and billowing fabric.