With Kate Bush on the sound system and Natalia Vodianova and Natasha Poly as the opening exits, things were feeling decidedly epic. The ornateness of our gold gilded room at Opera Garnier was as heavily ornate as a Balmain collection. Ironically, the collection felt lighter and it was all the more powerful for it. Olivier Rousteing's best outing for a long time, this collection was sexy, chic, playful and desirable. Black and white stripes and grids formed the framework of the collection. The Breton stripes were a continuation of Rousteing's ode to French dressing from S/S 18 menswear. Although it's counted as shine and sparkle, embellishments such as black sequins - and the light they reflected - also added a graphic quality. Some cropped tweed checked tops and trousers were super fun - and felt like something Chanel should be doing right now. Additionally, a chain-strapped pair of dungarees in the same fabric was a near postmodern take on a Chanel handbag. It looked great.
The opening plastic PVC looks were the most directional and fresh. Glamorous and tongue-in-cheek - this section was subversively chic and super irreverent. Other highlights included a silver dungaree dress and a silver leather-studded jumpsuit. The curlicue skirts weren't going to be to everyone's tastes but they were definitely a proposition. The idea of caging and macro fishnet style peepholes added a touch of kink to proceedings. Super tight dresses restricted the form and girls wiggled down the runway. It was all rather fun.
Separates at Balmain are definitely the way to go, as they mean the collection opens up to so many more people. Even a chain embellished tweed cropped top and skirt looked wearable. Not too heavy, these freshened up dresses were less inclined to look like the garments were wearing the models - or customer. The dresses that worked best were transparent and clicked with crystal tulle. Due to their lightness, even dresses with a curlicue hemline and a cape managed to not tip over into the edge of costume. Even the eponymous Balmain sweater dress looked edited and slimmed down of its fringing and embellishments. It looked no less 'loaded' or ornate. It just looked more modern and wearable - even a touch athletic. Overall, like the soundtrack that featured just Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Florence Welch - as opposed to the usual wall to wall juke box of girl power - the collection was succinct and more precise.