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Oliver Rousteing explores the art of provocation in this new story in which he reinvents Balmain’s men’s archive by drawing on what he calls the “Kurt Cobain-Meets-Marie-Antoinette” aesthetic.

Balmain Pre-Fall 2021 opens a new era for the French label by distorting the aristocratic aesthetic latent in fashion today through a series of grunge references. “As I conclude my first decade at Balmain, there is much talk of turning pages, closing chapters, and opening new books,” says the creative director in a press release.

In weaving the collection, Rousteig draws inspiration from one of his life-changing experiences: a serious accident in which he suffered burns and other ailments. Thus, cuts and embellishments merge with worn, patched, and irregular twists on the garments, subverting the traditional tropes of haute couture in an anarchic exercise.


Rock and grunge are thus injected into haute couture, mixing the worn-out effect of vintage shops and DIY with a series of baroque references to create a new language of freedom.

In this eclectic imagery, we find everything from houndstooth blazers with exaggerated shoulders to elongated sleeves or bags decorated with counterculture graphics. Oversized and off-shoulder jumpers are covered with pearl embellishments, while Balmain’s biker-rock codes are elevated by the use of faux fur and leather. Following the same visual reference, the collaboration with Fox Racing stands out, displaying biker boots, helmets, and motocross gloves in vibrant colors.


Oliver has just bathed the proposal in opulence through enormous fur coats or velvet suits with which he closes one of the most important sartorial chapters of his career for the Balmain house.