Counting down days till we get to see the highly anticipated Balmain x H&M pieces in stores. But until then see the full womenswear lookbook- the tailored pieces, detailed embroidery and pearl-embellished dresses. Olivier Rousteing talks to Vogue about his inspirations, how his fans influenced this collaboration and much more below. Why was it important to you to bring Balmain’s elevated techniques—like embroidery, beading, and draping—into your H&M collaboration? The craftsmanship was really important to me in the Balmain x H&M collection. If you collaborate with Balmain, you have to know that there can never be any compromise, and that’s something that H&M understood so well. They really pushed themselves to make it happen, to get that feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness. Embellishment has been part of my work at Balmain from the beginning. The allover beaded dress comes from my very first Balmain collection, so it’s like I’m literally giving to H&M the beginning of my story. There’s something emotional for me about how this dress was born, and now through H&M I’m giving it to the world. What’s the spirit you want this collection to evoke? Is it any different from your ready-to-wear? I wanted to capture the confidence, sexiness, and power of the house. When you wear the clothes, you’re going to feel powerful and strong. Balmain today is about taking the traditions and techniques of a French luxury house and pushing them into the future, opening them up to the new world. Balmain is about the new generation, and when you wear the clothes, I want you to feel sexy and fierce. I wanted the true spirit of Balmain to be in every single piece in the collection, from the incredible embellished dresses through to the logo T-shirts. We spent so much time on the collection making sure the cut and fit of every garment was totally Balmain. I spent as much time on this collaboration as I do on my own collections because I wanted to make sure every garment was perfect.
Many of the looks are re-creations or reimaginings of Balmain runway looks—why did you want to structure the collection this way instead of debuting all new pieces? It’s really exciting for me to think about seeing all the kids who’ve always dreamed of wearing Balmain in this collection. I love my followers on Instagram because they always tell me exactly what they think about my designs. After every show it’s their comments that I care most about. They tell me the pieces they would do anything to wear, and I wanted to make this collection for them. I’m really looking forward to the launch and to sharing this moment with all the #HMBalmaination fans around the world!
You have quite the Instagram following—how do you hope they react and connect with this collaboration? H&M has really tried to understand everything about me and my world at Balmain. They know how digital and social media are important to me, so we created a hashtag that was based on the codes and rules that I want to express. We became the #HMBalmaination because I think it really sums up the key message of the collaboration. First, it shows the good vibe we have between Balmain and H&M, and then it stands for the new nation of warriors from the entire world, coming together for this collaboration. When you use the hashtag, you feel part of the nation. It shows the collaboration is not only about beautiful clothes, it’s also about creating a new fashion world of diversity and community, a positive message of tolerance, happiness, peace, and freedom. I check the hashtag every day. I can’t wait for the collection to hit the stores so I can watch everyone use it around the world, starting in Australia and ending on the West Coast [of America]—it’s going to be so much fun.
Do you see another collaboration of this nature in your future? For me an H&M collaboration is an achievement. I think I’m the only designer who has experienced them in three different ways. When I was a teenager I was a total H&M kid and was always at the front of the queue waiting for the next collaboration. Then, when I went to work at Roberto Cavalli, I was in the shadows for their collaboration with H&M, learning everything that I could. So when it came to my own collaboration with H&M, I remembered how it felt for me when I was young—what were my expectations and what I want the new generation to feel when they see Balmain x H&M. And because I had already worked on a collaboration, I knew how far I could push it, and how I could challenge both myself and H&M to make it the best it could be.