Balmain Brand Guide
Balmain Brand Guide
One of the most storied houses in fashion history, the Balmain brand is synonymous with luxury, and we are privileged to add the esteemed brand to our roster of the world’s finest menswear this season.
History of Balmain
The house was established by in Paris in 1945 by Pierre Balmain, the son of a drapery merchant and a man-about-town in Parisien society. After showing just one collection, which was feted by luminaries such as the costume designer Cecil Beaton and intellectual writer Gertrude Stein, the house quickly cemented itself alongside Dior as a force in French fashion. Balmain used his natural charisma to build relationships with his customer base, along with courting interest from further afield, outfitting everyone from Hollywood film stars like Marlene Dietrich, to foreign royals, notably Queen Sirikit of Thailand, who was touring the West at the time.
The Balmain brandwas one of the first labels to adopt this pan-global approach, seeing the potential in the American and Asian markets and tailoring the commercial supply to meet the demand in these areas. After Balmain’s death in 1982, the brand went through a succession of different creative directors, most notably Oscar de la Renta, who helmed the house for the period between 1993 and 2002. Bringing a new personality to the brand, de la Renta leveraged his status as a native New Yorker to bring a metropolitan vibe to the Balmain brand, while still respecting the aesthetic and designs of the house’s founder.
In recent years, the Balmain label has seen a new surge in popularity thanks to young creative director Olivier Rousteing and his social media-savvy persona. The second-youngest person to hold a creative director position in Paris, since 2011 Rousteing has utilised both traditional runway shows and his wealth of Instagram connections to present his vision for the brand. In contrast to Balmain’s classic, understated image, Rousteing injects a sense of youthfulness to the collection, adding a wealth of influences ranging from military uniform, rock-star aesthetics and nods to Asian culture to create something totally unique while still respecting the history of the brand. Having grown his acclaim much in the same way that Pierre Balmain did decades earlier — appealing to a changing global market, while using his own personal charisma to build an enviable list of contacts and customers among the rich and famous — Rousteing is arguably the closest the brand has come to a true successor to its founder, which is reflected in the growing success of the brand.
Keeping the luxury DNA intact, Rousteing’s Balmain brand is the ideal balance of refined sophistication and rugged masculinity. Key pieces from the collection include the Biker Jacket and Biker Jeans: a formidable combination that elevates these two wardrobe staples into something worthy of fashion royalty. The jacket is crafted from the finest lambskin, buttery-soft to the touch in contrast to its tough-guy looks, playing on the iconic ‘Double Rider’ jackets sported by 50s icons like Marlon Brando and James Dean. Balmain jeans, meanwhile, transfuse the blue-collar staple with an unexpected motorsports influence, reframing panelled motorcycle trousers in sturdy washed Japanese denim for a uniquely textured, three-dimensional look. Supporting these investment pieces are a plethora of essentials like t-shirts and sweats, each given a unique Balmain twist. Displaying a graphic language that’s informed by Rousteing’s influences from the worlds of music, fashion and travel, Balmain t shirts and other apparel are the perfect way to inject some luxury into your off-duty wear.
Finally, Balmain footwear is the perfect accent to the rest of the collection. Whether looking for a contemporary, chunky sneaker like the Jace, a sleek and sophisticated ankle boot, or something in between like the slip-on Sock Sneakers, the latest lineup of Balmain shoes is some of the strongest ever, all boasting superlative European construction, making them true investment pieces.
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