If guests at the Balmain Men’s Fall Winter 2020 fashion show had not known they were in Paris, they would have certainly suspected that they had ended up somewhere in Sahara.
The crowd of guest stars, buyers and insiders was greeted by an impressive exotic setting, with sandy shades and rolling dunes from far-away lands. A natural scene where time had stopped, paced by the steps of models in draped garments and sandals, to the rhythm of a modern dance performed by men wearing dhoti pants only.
Rather than that inspiration journey to remote lands that many creatives from the past and present have walked down, the reason behind Olivier Rousteing’s choice to celebrate these African landscapes is to be traced back to his deepest intentions.
Grown up in bourgeois Bordeaux, the designer is the adopted child of French parents and has just found out about his real roots in Somalia and Ethiopia, creatively transposed into a new collection that has turned out to be a successful melting pot of classic codes and references to the Middle East and India.
The first leg of this introspective path was the movie Wonder Boy, which was released last September 28 and voiced the personal challenges that Rousteing met in the search for his biological parents and along his career in fashion. A contemplative movie meant to be encouraging for many: the designer even called out to the French government to amend the laws on births and adoptions, so that more people like him could find their origins.
Following along the same line, the fashion show blended the personal and professional spheres, and thus shortened the distances between the creative director and the man discovering his past.
From a creative point of view, the designer presented a consistent range featuring the latest twists in menswear, which now honors classic codes and traditional fabrics and silhouettes – the kind that our relatives from the previous generations would have worn. No surprise that Rousteing has even named a pair of high-waist trousers as “grandpa pants”.
The designer has shaped a Fall Winter 2020 collection where 1980s pieces – a blue blazer, golden dresses or golden argyle sequined knits, all marked by the brand’s ever-present, signature bling-bling – flirt with dhoti pants, draped tops, suede tunics and capes, and cozy knitwear for the Saharian nights.