Exclusive: Olivier Rousteing On Muses, Music And Mytheresa x Balmain

8 min read

Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing talks exclusively to MOJEH about the launch of his party-ready capsule collection with Mytheresa

We always look for an excuse to dress up and welcome the festive season with all the glitter and glam the holidays are made up of. What better excuse to add-to-cart than a capsule holiday collection designed by Olivier Rousteing. Talking exclusively to MOJEH, the famed designer gets excited about Balmain archive inspiration on his third collaboration with Mytheresa.

Fifteen signature Balmain styles have been reinterpreted for this exclusive capsule collection for Mytheresa. What were the main inspirations?

This time of year is, of course, all about celebrations — and it seems even more important to celebrate now, during this holiday season, after finally moving past the last few years of lockdowns and anxiety. So we looked to the classic clubs of Paris and New York of the ‘80s — Studio 54, Palladium, Paradise Garage, Le Palace, Les Bains Douches — since that really seems to be such an incredible moment of pushing limits, dressing to impress, dazzling nightlife — and just pure joy.

How could you not be impressed with the look of the people you see in the paparazzi shots from the classic clubs like Studio 54 and Le Palace in the early ‘80s? That incredible, short-lived moment really reflected what Balmain has always been about, blending music and fashion to create one new, joyous whole. My team and I loved looking at all the classic photographs of the clubs — it’s amazing to see how that’s where so many legendary artists had their starts in those clubs. And, wow, how amazing everyone looked as they came out to see their favourite divas perform! We also pulled some incredible looks from Balmain’s rich archives — as always, this house’s legacy served as an inspiration for me. I love how we were able to adapt our signature, immediately recognisable Balmain silhouettes to that ‘80s moment, adding a distinctive sensual and celebratory touch to our favourite styles.

This is the third Balmain capsule collection designed exclusively for Mytheresa. What does the partnership mean to you, and how did the idea of collaborating again on a new capsule come about?

Well I guess it’s pretty clear that I love working with Mytheresa — I mean, seriously… Three collections? It’s obvious that things are working out between us! I love how the Mytheresa team immediately understands what we’re proposing and how they work so closely with us to make each of our collaborations so special. And I am very gratified to see just how well received our limited-edition offerings are — each new release does better than the last.

As I mentioned, the inspiration for all these evening designs was a very natural one for me and my design team: this time of year is all about holiday celebrations and — after what we’ve all been through during the past couple of years — now seems to be definitely the right time to focus on celebrating with those who are most important to us. I was so happy to see that the Mytheresa team was in complete agreement!

Which styles and elements of this capsule collection stand out for you most and why?

We’ve begun with some of today’s signature looks, but we wanted to be sure to channel the spirit of past Balmain runways. I always love riffing through the rich archives of the house and each season we build upon the incredible couture legacy of Pierre Balmain. My team worked with me to perfectly meld our signature silhouettes with the unique celebratory spirit of the disco era. This Balmain x Mytheresa collection of perfect evening looks — in particular, those very disco-inspired sleek and sensual silver tops and dresses — just seems so right for this particular holiday season of celebrations.

When designing a new collection, what does your design process usually look like? Do you have a specific person or muse in mind?

Of course, I always design for the beautiful modern women that I see on the avenues of Paris. I love the diverse and incredible mix that I see — every day, as I make my way to the office, to lunch or meeting friends for drinks after work. This collection, obviously, also looked to past legends of the 1970s and 1980s: beautiful, talented artists like Bianca Jagger, Grace Jones, Diana Ross, Cher and Deborah Harry. It’s incredible to look at those classic photos and videos of those legends from back in the day.

If you were a young designer starting out in the industry today, what advice would you give to your younger self?

First, I would like to point out that I really don’t see myself all that much as being an older designer who should be offering guidance to a new generation! But, yes, I’ve been overseeing collections for over 10 years at Balmain so, granted, I do have some experience… And yes, I very much remember how incredibly difficult it can be to get that needed break, to find someone willing to give you a chance. What I always say to those who ask me for advice is to stress that it’s important to always remain true to yourself and your own guiding vision. You already know why you want to work in this industry. You’ve prepared yourself since you were a kid, done the classes, done the work, so make sure you hold on to what first pushed you into this industry. Don’t forget the inspirations and reasons that made you choose this career. Selling out and compromising too much and too often — well, it might sometimes get you quick cash — but it usually doesn’t get you very far and it will definitely make you lose the joy that true creation promises. If you do need to take a job that you don’t love, make sure you use it as a way to move, as quickly as possible, to somewhere else.

And it’s important to remember that it’s never going to be easy. There are no overnight successes. This is such a tough industry to break into. You’re going to have to work through a lot of late nights, early mornings and lost weekends. Get ready to make a ton of sacrifices. But if you stick to it, all that work and all those sacrifices can eventually lead to the type of joy and happiness that few — if any — careers can actually reach. I do, of course, remember the many years when I had a hard time making ends meet, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. That experience taught me what I needed to learn and it made today’s life possible. And I love that life. I love what I am allowed to create and the collections that I get to oversee. I love the people I work with — thank you Team Balmain! — and I love that each and every day consistently brings me joy and new discoveries.

You have tapped into the Metaverse with NFTs already, but is there anything else you can share that you’ve got coming up in the tech direction?

At Balmain, my team and I are always trying to push boundaries and think in new ways. Sure, the whole Metaverse and Web3 might be the latest frontier for us today, but we see these explorations as simply continuing an incredible legacy. Pierre Balmain was always breaking rules and pushing boundaries. And we see today’s new Balmain innovations as simply building upon that 75-year history of audaciousness that our founder began. Yes, we do have some very exciting things planned for the next few months, but my marketing and design teams would kill me if I were to spill the beans! But I’m excited for the next steps.

The collection is all about glamorous and shimmering party looks. If you were to organise the perfect disco party, who would you invite?

For the perfect disco party, my guest list would start off with all of those icons that were on our mood board, inspiring us as we worked on this special Mytheresa collection. I mean, could you imagine having Bianca Jagger, Grace Jones, Diana Ross, Cher and Deborah Harry show up at the door, prepared to show us how it’s done? And, of course I’d be adding the members of our Balmain Army to that list — especially the talented artists who have teamed up with us over the years to create some of Balmain’s most memorable runway, concert and campaign moments. And last, but oh-so-definitely not least: I’d fill the room with the incredibly talented people that I am privileged to work with every day at Balmain, as well as my close friends — and, of course, my family. Family is key for every great party.

Can you share your five favourite party tracks with us?

As anyone who’s been paying attention to my 10 years’ worth of Balmain campaigns and runways already knows, I like to rely on a good and varied mix of music. So, I’d be filling the space with the perfect blend of legendary classics, today’s very best and just the right touch of those pop songs that were so important to me when I was growing up in Bordeaux — we all need a little guilty pleasure sometimes!

So how about this mix? First of all, some classics: Cher from the ‘70s through to today, starting with Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves right up until Believe, and then add in her remakes of Abba’s hits from her Mamma Mia role, as well! Some soon-to-be-classics from Beyoncé are a must-have: for example, Break My Soul has been on a non-stop loop in my office since June and it would definitely be played, repeated and mixed at this party!

Then French pop songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Indochine’s 1982 hit, L’aventurier has always been a favourite and I love including it in my runway soundtracks. And then the biggest American hits that were always being played when I was a kid. Of course, a good mix of Britney and Michael. We all know that those songs are guaranteed to get people up and dancing! Shop the collection

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