A Love Letter to Pierre: Balmain’s Fall/Winter 2023 Women’s Show

Olivier Rousteing draws inspiration from Balmain’s founder in Paris, creating a collection equal parts timeless and re-imagined

With a smaller presentation, streamlined silhouettes, and a re-introduced French-inspired style, Creative Director Olivier Rousteing pays tribute to Pierre Balmain’s spirit, vision, and genius by utilizing the relatively untouched archives of the house to create a collection that embodies the ideals of timelessness close to the brand. 

And yet, while this celebration of the house’s legacy is at the center of the collection, each piece is suitably updated and adapted for the present, continuing Balmain’s reputation as a uniquely audacious, forward-looking designs. It is with this in mind that the collection presents a compelling yet wearable wardrobe, embedded with strict tailoring, cinched waists, strong shoulders, perfect pleating, and elaborate volumes that can be traced back to the early architectural training of Pierre. 







While the base of the collection is starkly composed of black and cream shades, pops of vibrant teal, true reds, royal blues, and brilliant pinks tie together the vintage-meets-modern feel. The reintroduction of a brown house pattern takes shape in a number of jackets and skirts in the collection, as inspired by the endless repetition of contrasting marble squares laid out inside the passages of Versailles and the Loire Valley châteaux that Pierre passed by. The distinctly Balmain silhouettes are the center of the collection, their powerful shoulders and necklines emphasizing the pristine tailoring of each garment. Each look draws on a similar classicism and elegance, while re-imagined touches of draping fabric, plunging necklines, and sheer elements curate a captivating visual experience. 


Rousteing also drew inspiration from Pierre’s love for one of France’s most classic motifs: petit pois or polka dots. The designer often incorporated the design in his collections, rendering them in all possible sizes, configurations, and techniques. Here, they take shape with the use of pearl adornment, adding a new texture to the garments. Similarly, bows were another area of inventiveness for Pierre that Rousteing borrowed, playing with the size and placement of strong yet elegant bows on a number of pieces on the runway, some of the most notable being on the neck of a full denim ensemble, another on the center of a patterned fuchsia sweater, and another atop a sheer long sleeve. Pointed-toe stilettos further added to the air of elegance, while chunkier platform styles in patent leather and velvet brought out the fun in each piece. 

The more modern elements typically associated with Balmain (think geometric paneling, embellishment, and padded shoulders) also make an appearance in this collection, marrying together the old with the new. One striking top features full pearl embellishment, while another corset-style top feature a peplum-inspired waist also made entirely of pearls. Sheer-illusion mini and maxi dresses embellished with dropping crystals also remind audiences of the Balmain that Rousteing built in his time as creative director.   

While show-stoppingly modern in an almost futuristic way, at a closer glance these pieces draw on those same 1940s French styles that Pierre originally built the house on – the perfect way to close out a show in celebration of the collections for today with an appreciation of those from yesterday. 



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