For Rousteing’s Balmain, How the West Was Fun




It was Oliver Rousteing’s first runway collection as creative director of Balmain yesterday. At the age of 26, that’s a pretty big step into the limelight. Rousteing was inspired by the performance style of Nudie Cohn, Hollywood’s “Rodeo Tailor,” who designed the gilt Westernwear jumpsuits for U.S. country and western stars—including Elvis—in the early ’60s. The King’s flashy jumpsuit look from his twilight Las Vegas period was evident in Balmain’s beaded toreador jackets and the hyper-patterned, Western tooled jeans, heavy on the gold and silver in a Gianni Versace way.
Actually, a large portion of Thursday was pretty over the top, starting with India’s Manish Arora, who will present his first collection for Paco Rabanne next Tuesday. Arora is known for his ornate embroidery and beading, and this season he went on a decorative rampage inspired by Robert Altman’s “Happy People” photo taken in 1970 at Colorado’s Holy Jam Festival. Arora turned the black-and-white image into a print and covered it with embroidery and beading. He also had sassy Spanish star Rossi de Palma open the show poured into an hourglass psychedelic hologram print dress. What followed was a trip in acid brights, cartoon collage prints, jeweled lattice work and cross-stitched leggings.



Like an antidote to these hijinks, Rick Owens concentrated on the purity of floor-grazing columns. Owens said he was inspired by ’60s couture, but it would take a Sherlock Holmes of style to see this in these clothes. He is a sculptor, and there’s nothing referential here. The columns opened Owens’ show in solid white, featuring one jagged pleat down the front. His new raglan sleeve jackets and tunics—in tone-on-tone mixtures of gray, or black fabric and leather with the simplest drawstring waist—look almost romantic.

Ann Demeulemeester is always romantic in a sexy, melancholy way, and for spring, she’s flirting with nude silk fringe and transparent gauze. Oh yeah, Patti Smith’s boyish tailoring was in there too, as always. And Demeulemeester has been playing with string for sandal boots and chokers which look like macramé.

Meanwhile, over in the Tuileries gardens at the Jeu de Paume, Guillaume Henry took to the Tyrol for the new Carven’s second runway show. Henry is known for dressing young girls, and his pretty plaid looks and short pouf skirts are all over the place this fall. So he continued in the frisky vein for spring, sending out a Minnie Mouse circle skirt in black leather, a new baby-doll, A-line trench, and a lot of tricky stuff based on lederhosen and what looked like a deconstructed take on the Austrian folkore costumes from “The Sound of Music”—i.e., Lederhosen straps, dirndl-style skirts, and curvy, scoop-neck jackets. Instead of the traditional slate gray and loden green, Henry’s Edelweiss looks were in bright pink and orange with a lot of bare skin and Chantilly lace thown in for vamp appeal. The result was nice, and more than a little bit naughty.