Olivier Rousteing is young and good-looking. So young and good-looking, in fact, it’s easy to mistake him for an especially well-dressed off-duty model. He’s 28, just, with cheekbones that look as if he’s sucking the stone out of a plum. He’s his own best advertisement – for the French house of Balmain, where he has been the creative director since 2011.
“I think Balmain today is really a new generation brand, even keeping the tradition,” he states.
That new generation encompasses not only the young designer, but the young, moneyed consumer buying these clothes.
Those consumers include Rihanna, who became an unofficial face of the house. This summer, that went a step further: Rihanna was the model for the Balmain advertisements, dressed in quilted leather, denim and houndstooth-checks. She’s 26 – the same generation, then, as Rousteing.
“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 – meaning psychologically, rather than fiscally, although she doubtless owns a lot of them now. “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.”
Excerpt from Alexander Fury’s article for The Independent