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Balmain’s golden boy Olivier Rousteing breaks new ground

“Jewelry has always been part of my aesthetics, as you can imagine. It’s part of my DNA,” says Olivier Rosting. Behind his sumptuous black marble table at the head of Belmain’s headquarters in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, he pushes the sleeves of his artfully grated Breton knit to reveal forearms adorned with piles of bracelets and bangle.

“This, [he gestures to his right] Is Balmain costume jewelry. This is my Rolex, this is my Cartier … “On his other arm is a more modest and perhaps sentimental selection, including souvenirs from his rare out-of-role moments and a black wooden bead necklace his father gave him.” I like to mix my jewelry with some I bought, for example, on holidays. “I’m in Sicily or Mykonos or Los Angeles and I’m just going to get something not too expensive.”

This combination of hard luxury with accessibility has long been announced closureBelmain’s approach, where he has sought to open up the fashion world since being appointed the first black creative director of a large French luxury home in 2011, at just 25 years old. Belmain’s turnover has increased sevenfold since Rousteing joined, a milestone at a time when the rate of replacement of creative directors in luxury fashion is so high that many are barely given a chance to unload their luggage.

On the one hand, Rousteing has positioned the house as a palace of glamorous high-octane stars, courting famous friends like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna – both of whom starred in their first haute couture campaigns in Balmain – as well as former French First Lady Carla Bruni who closed the runway For his 10th anniversary show in 2021. On the other hand, he peeled the curtains on the inner apex of fashion, and opened invitations to some of his runway shows from around 500. Types in the industry for 6,000 fans and rebranding the event as the annual Balmain Festival.

Balmain Emblem Beads Necklace Yellow Gold, Onyx Beads, Diamonds & Tsavorite, £ 13,000, balmain.com © Alex Brunet & Olga Varova for FT

Balmain Emblem Large Sleeve in Yellow Gold, Lacquer, Onyx, Diamonds and Tsavorite, £ 26,000; Balmain Emblem seal ring, in yellow gold, onyx, lacquer, set with diamonds and tsavorite, £ 15,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze ring in yellow gold, £ 2,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze flooring ring in yellow gold set with diamonds, 6,400 pounds, all on balmain.com © Alex Brunet & Olga Varova to FT

It makes sense, then, that Rousteing would add another category to its Balmain portfolio with the first fine jewelry collection ever in the brand’s 77-year history – and its timing could not be better. McKinsey predicts that luxury brand jewelry is expected to grow at a rate of 8-12 percent annually between 2019 and 2025, about three times the total range of luxury products. With the vast majority of sales still reaching for unbranded items, the category is ripe for a large upscale takeover. Since the beginning of 2019, LVMH has acquired Tiffany & Co. for $ 15.8 billionRichemont acquired Buccellati from the Chinese group Gangtai and fashion houses Gucci, Prada and Giorgio Armani launched fine jewelry lines.

In front of the designer, next to a bottle of Sucker Lemon and a pack of cigarettes, is an edited selection from the new collection, consisting of 32 rings, necklaces, pins, earrings and bracelets (mostly on loan for brilliant photo magazines) at prices ranging from £ 1,600 to £ 31,000. The style is brass. Characteristic, edgy but surprisingly sleek, realized in yellow gold, onyx and diamonds, the only color of electric accumulator, chlorophyll green dotted here or there.Each item is made of recycled or certified 18k gold from a responsible jewelry board and traceable gemstones. The jewelry are also RJC certified to ensure greater transparency during the art process.

Sunglasses, pendant, onyx beads, rings, wristwatch and bracelets

Left: Oliver Rosting’s sunglasses; Yellow Gold Balmain Labyrinth Frieze Pendant, £ 1,700; Balmain Emblem beaded necklace in yellow gold, onyx, diamond and tsavorite beads, £ 13,000; Balmain Labyrinth PB single stud earring in yellow gold set with diamond, £ 2,000; Balmain Emblem seal ring, in yellow gold, onyx, lacquer, set with diamonds and tsavorite, £ 15,000; Balmain Labyrint PB paved seal ring in yellow gold set with 9,800 pound diamonds; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze ring in yellow gold, £ 2,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze flooring ring in yellow gold set with diamonds, £ 6,400; Oliver Rosting’s own clock; Balmain Emblem Large Sleeve in Yellow Gold, Lacquer, Onyx, Diamonds and Tsavorite, £ 26,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze Pave Bracelet Yellow Gold Inlaid with Diamonds, £ 14,000, everything Balmain is available at balmain.com © Alex Brunet & Olga Varova for FT

Without a fine jewelry archive from which to draw, Rosting dabbled in past designs ready for the home to wear, with the intention of creating a future legacy. “Belmain is about glamor, it is also about eternity, about this sense of heritage of a house built in 1945 by Monsieur Belmain after World War II. There is a sense of couture in my clothes, of uniqueness and eternity, and what is more than a jewelry line to create something timeless?” Asks Rosting. “My [hope] With this piece of jewelry someone will buy them and in 10 years he will give them to his child or grandson. This, for me, will be the greatest pride, to bring memory to the family and become a legacy. “

The collection revolves around key house codes like the coat of arms, which are often pressed into the gold buttons that complete the house’s unique blazers. In the jewelry offer, it can be found on delicate medallion-like discs that dot the more delicate parts of the collection or embossed on chunky seal rings and cufflinks. There is a magnificent cross highlighted with a jewel at its apex, first seen in Rousteing’s famous Fabergé-inspired 2012 collection. Gardens, passing along the length of bracelets, wraps the finger or shortened to individual pendants or earrings. Finally, the collection’s statement necklace, half gold necklace, half jet black beads cut by a symbol focal point was inspired by the wooden bead bracelet from Rousteing’s father.

“What I like about this collection is that it is genderless,” Rousteing adds. “I think modernity is not in design. For me, modernity is a way of thinking. Because what can be modern for you may not be modern for someone else, and I must say, [I’m not just talking about] The jewelry, it’s in relation to everything. “

Olivier Rosting’s watch; Balmain Emblem Large Sleeve in Yellow Gold, Lacquer, Onyx, Diamonds and Tsavorite, £ 26,000; Balmain Emblem seal ring, in yellow gold, onyx, lacquer, set with diamonds and tsavorite, £ 15,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze ring in yellow gold, £ 2,000; Balmain Labyrinth Frieze flooring ring in yellow gold set with diamonds, £ 6,400, all Balmain available on balmain.com © Alex Brunet & Olga Varova to FT

Roasted, adopted by middle-class white parents and raised in Bordeaux is a rare example of a colorful man in a high creative role in a luxury fashion house, an imbalance that is loud for him. “I pushed to change the codes, to be more inclusive, to talk about diversity when there was a lack of conversation around it,” Rousteing says. “Being the first French black designer in a French luxury house, I decided for those 10 years to fight and make sure we bring a conversation to the table and not keep it quiet. So I worked on my casting and campaigns, bringing music and the hip hop world to the fashion industry. [Kardashian]”Rihanna, Justin Bieber, I had the opportunity to create this world that you call the Belmain Army.”

Transparency and personal acceptance were also part of Rousteing’s own journey. In October 2020, the designer suffered first- and second-degree burns along his body. Although usually candid – a film crew documented the search for his biological parents for the 2019 Netflix movie wonderchild – Rousteing kept secret the accident and the healing process that continued the following year, opened to his followers in an Instagram post and article to Vogue, describing how the incident forced him to re-evaluate his obsession with authenticity and perfectionism.

Rousteing is passionate about what a modern fashion and jewelry house should represent: “Luxury does not mean to be exclusive. Opening the doors does not mean not being chic. Opening the door means being inclusive, and the world needs more and more inclusion. I would say it was my struggle and my obstacle in my decade, to make people “Understand. You see changes, but is it enough? No. At the end of the day, the struggle is not over.”

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Balmain’s golden boy Olivier Rousteing breaks new ground Source link Balmain’s golden boy Olivier Rousteing breaks new ground

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