Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing Loves Seeing Zara Copying Him; Talks Fashion

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Balmain‘s creative director Olivier Rousteing is young, intelligent, stylish and such a major factor in the fashion industry. His high cheek bones give him that “model” look. Rousteing is Paris-based and his office is inside of Balmain’s headquarters. He’s been heading the prestigious French fashion house for six seasons now (three years as creative director).

In a recent interview with The Independent, the 28-year-old French creative director talks placing his stamp on the line at Balmain, wanting to mix ideas and cultures, his fashion recollection, moving from Paris to Italy, working at Just Cavalli, Balmain today, making Rihanna the face of the house, and Zara and H&M copying him. Below are some highlights:

On Balmain’s style already being well established and placing his stamp on the line:

Of course, I am looking at the archive and I am always looking at the story of the house. I do not want to go too far away from their aesthetic,” says Rousteing. “I do think my aesthetic is exactly what Pierre Balmain would do. When he invented the Jolie Madame or when he dressed jet-set women… I think today, I am doing the same thing in my own way. Of course, I love the archives. But now I think it is enough to look at the past; I start to think I need to mature and see different things. Paris is not so inspiring anymore, I think. That is why you need to open your mind and go away from the past.”

Being French, having “this”  tradition, wanting to mix ideas and cultures: 

 “I am a boy from the world. I am French, of course, but it does not matter. I have this tradition, I am born with this beautiful tradition – but I think today being luxury, being quality, being modern, hasn’t any borders… and I’m mixed race. I want to mix ideas, I want to mix cultures.”

His fashion recollection is an early- 90’s Saint Laurent fashion show:

 “It was a show with Iman and I remember fuchsia colours – I thought it was pretty amazing.”

On moving from Paris to Italy and working at Just Cavalli:

It helped me a lot,” says Rousteing of his time in Italy. “I left France when I was 18 for five and a half, six years. Italy teaches you how to make commercial pieces, to be really commercial. Cavalli is an empire, it’s huge – you get everything you want in a few days… I didn’t know the meaning of ‘waiting’! It taught me so much about being fearless and super-reactive, and doing so many collections a year.” “But it didn’t teach me something about taste. I didn’t like the taste of Cavalli. I love the Cavalli of the past.”

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On Balmain today:

I think Balmain today is really a new generation brand, even keeping the tradition.

On making Rihanna the face of Balmain’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection:

It was an amazing statement for the house, for fashion,” he says. “It was really important that she was doing the campaign because she’s my muse, she’s my icon, and she’s my friend.”

What is it about Rihanna that Rousteing rates?

 “She owned the clothes,” he says. “That’s exactly what I want. I love seeing a woman, the feeling of a model, a top model. When you look at an old Versace show, you loved the dress, but you loved Claudia Schiffer, you loved Cindy Crawford. Supermodels! With Rihanna you get that too. Today people are looking at Rihanna like they were looking at Naomi Campbell or Claudia… nobody wants to be a model, everybody wants to be a singer. That’s the new dream. I think having Rihanna in the campaign is like having Cindy Crawford of Christy Turlington, but for my generation.”

Fashion for his generation:

I’m 28. I know not everyone can afford a thousand-dollar jacket. I’m doing fashion for my amazing front row every season, but at the same time I’m doing fashion for young girls, who wear their version in the street,” he says.

On lower and streetwear brands copying/ripping of luxury wear and high end designers:

I think it was Coco Chanel who said if you’re original, be ready to be copied,” says Rousteing philosophically. Then, he unexpectedly follows it up by stating “I love seeing a Zara window with my clothes mixed with CĂ©line and Proenza [Schouler]! I think that’s genius. It’s even better than what I do! I love the styling, I love the story… I watch the windows always, and it’s genius what they do today. They go fast, they have a great sense of styling and how to pick up what they have to pick up from designers. I’m really happy that Balmain is copied – when I did my Miami collection and we did the black and white checks, I knew they would be in Zara and H&M. But they did it in a clever way – they mixed a CĂ©line shape with my Balmain print! Well done! I love that“.

Photos Credit: Getty  | The Coveteur

Source: The Independent

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of For all general inquiries please email Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.