PARIS, France — The experience of watching a Balmain show, menswear in particular, reflects a fundamental disconnect. On one side there is the impressive craftsmanship and heavy embellishment of the pieces, veritable masterpieces of neo-baroque bling, with a heavy dose of rock. On the other are creative director Olivier Rousteing's wise and convincing words about designing as a response to the contemporary world and his firm will to talk to his own generation.
This season, for instance, the message was inclusion. In the middle you have the clothes: hyper-decorated, stiff, broad shouldered, narrow tailored stuff that invariably teleports the viewer in the middle of an Eighties deja-vu. You easily picture Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet or Prince wearing these looks, more than 2017 millennials and roundabouts.
The question is hammering "who really wears Balmain?" As we wait for the answer, we can only appreciate Rousteing's passion, the Balmain atelier's savoir faire, and their ability of having created an unmistakable aesthetic: certainly nostalgic, but energetic.