She's ain't a Girl, She's a Tough Girl ... Balmain FW2014 Collection

How does one put into perspective on Olivier Rousteing’s fall/winter 2014 collection for Balmain? Through my eyes, I would describe it as very military with a glamorous tinge of Africana.

To weave it into a fashion story, let’s just say that the collection is inspired from an African girl who perhaps came from a war-torn African country ― a beautiful guerrilla girl whose arsenal is not limited to just bazookas and guns, but also her personal style that amalgamates military uniforms accentuated with African tribal jewellery.

And this is the part where exaggeration comes in handy: Somehow, after years of being engaged into the war ―something that she never wished, let alone asking for it ― the girl felt an urge to leave; see the world and live up her dreams. 

Thus, on a silent night, she sneaked out from her camp and managed to escape from the ongoing turmoil in her country. With a one-way flight ticket in hand and a worn-out luggage filled with nothing but yards of cloths and a slew of tribal accessories handed down from her grandmother and mother, she relied on her luck and landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

In the City of Lights, the powers above bestowed a new direction to her life: she wowed the talent scouts with her exotic caramel complexion and leggy stature; walked down the runways and fronted a multitude of advertising campaigns for huge fashion labels in the world; and garnered the fashion press attention (Anna Wintour and Andre-Leon Talley included) at the fashion weeks by turning up at the front-row in her own semi-couture creations

Certainly not meant for the faint hearted, Rousteing continues to project that tough feminine image in his collection – a trait that is now part of Balmain’s design DNA, ever since the brand was revived to its current glorious fashion stardom years ago.   

Apart from the atypical military garbs such as jackets and shirts, the uniform of the Swiss guards that guard the palace of the Pope in the Vatican City seemed to have a significant influence on the collection, visibly displayed through the liberal application of large pleats on the skirts and the peplums.

To project real toughness to the look as well as airs of true Africana glamour and sophistication, elements such as embellishments and animal prints are also added in to spice up the sensational fashion gumbo. 

Doused in plethora of colours and sans the atypical nautical feel, the ropes are cut into different lengths and affixed together with metallic studs to create a coterie of tops, dresses and skirts that are not just unique but with a dash of couture sensation as well. 
Imagine the number of man hours needed to assemble the ropes into one single dress – a definite reason why any fashionista should rush to any Balmain store or multi-brand stores that carry Balmain and snap a piece.  

On the other hand, savannah and tribal prints such as leopard, zebra and the African interpretation of chevron print in monotonous black and white impart sinuous allure to the collection. 

Yet, in the sea of Africana, one could still spot an outstanding taste of Japan in the form of a zebra kimono top accessorised with a wide, heavily embellished orange leather belt – an obvious yet stylish clash of two cultures that we would rarely see. 

While skinny pants are long favoured by the fashion sphere, Rousteing is bringing a wind of change to the scene with cargo pants crafted from buttery soft leather as well as in fabric.

However, compared to the 90s version where the fit was big, Rousteing’s take for the fall/winter gracefully fall along the hips and down to the legs; nicely fit but not cinched to the skin. 

Hint of the 80s is present in the form of a Grace Jones-esque one-shoulder top with single long sleeve, a strong shoulder and a matching cargo pants, accessorised with heavily embellished wide belt and a Masai stacked choker, crafted out of ropes.

For accessories, apart from the Masai rope stacked necklaces, golden hoop earrings, stacked rope bracelets and sandals crafted from nothing but ropes and metallic studs, just to list a few, will add in that toughness punch into the fall/winter looks.

Balmain fall/winter 2014 ready-to-wear and accessories collection will be available at all Balmain boutiques and selected multi-brand stores around the world starting this autumn.

*Photos courtesy of Balmain

Balmain at Aseana -  Ground Floor, Melium Galleria, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur.


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