Founded in 1945, Balmain rapidly became a fashion favourite among international post-war style icons such as Brigitte Bardot and Marlene Dietrich. Today, the name has taken on a new lease on luxury fashion, developing unusual sartorial traits such as leopard print dresses and leather jumpsuits. Its metallic detailed biker jackets and khaki hoodies are a far cry from the conventions associated with luxury fashion, but the French designer works this to his advantage, incorporating boxy animal prints to his T-shirts, tops and sneakers. Standing in stark contrast to his safari-inspired creations is a collection of striking peplum dresses, cropped leather tops and herringbone blazers – using refined lines and extreme attention to detail to shape the perfectly-proportioned silhouette.
Since 1982 the house of Balmain has been under the creative influence of various successors – the most famous of whom to date is Oscar de la Renta. He salvaged the brand at a time when haute couture was declining due to the impractical nature of its business. He and Balmain had similar tastes in design aesthetics, favouring sleek and simple silhouettes over extravagant, ornamental styles. What sets Balmain apart is its congruity with the 21st century – its ability to mould monochrome designs of black leather biker pants, khaki hoodies and coated biker jeans into staples of the fashion-savvy modern man’s wardrobe. Today’s creative director Olivier Rousteing has redefined the French label using ornate black leather jackets, ladder skirts and khaki cargo pants to exude an interesting mix of modern-day rock-chic glamour while retaining the essence of its intrinsic decadence.