Monday Muse: Iman Inspires Balmain Pre-Fall 2014
The fashion calendar is a wily thing — right now, we’ve just finished couture week, which shows just after the menswear collections walk in London, Milan and Paris. Those shows happen in the midst of pre-fall previews, which can have actual runway shows a la Oscar de la Renta or just have press previews, which smaller brands such as Cushnie et Ochs prefer. Big brands sometimes opt for big presentations in lieu of a runway show, however. Kenzo showed a its collection in the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York’s atrium (which resembled a museum) and Olivier Rousteing showed his latest collection for Balmain in a dark gallery space in Paris. Pre-fall shows span the calendar, starting in November and happening as late as January, right on the heels of the fall collections, which show in February and March. Phew.
Now that you’ve got all that straight, you’ll understand just why many designers fill their pre-fall collections with clothes that include everything from light jackets and knits to leather pants and cashmere coats. And for a brand like Balmain, which has fans all over the world (read: fans that live in varied climates) that means offering up something for everyone. The label’s latest collection was inspired by a series of photos that Peter Beard shot of supermodel Iman during a trip to Africa (some of which appeared in Playboy), bringing together Balmain’s archives and Rousteing’s street style.
Peter Beard is no stranger to Africa — his first trip was in 1955 and he’s photographed the continent’s people and animals since the ’70s. The images he shot of Iman are among his most famous, not only because thy feature both stunning vistas and a stunning model, but because they brought together two of Beard’s passions: Africa and beauty. Throughout his career, Beard shot rock stars, supermodels and other aspects of the fashion world, but this project was a great way for him not only to bring together his own loves, but for the general public to see the flora and fauna of Africa.
Beard’s photos of Iman were the starting point for Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing for his Pre-fall collection. The most evident influence was in his use of animal prints (zebra dominated, but there were also slashes of leopard). Overall the look was a decidedly more relaxed take on the house’ signatures, with nary a squared off shoulder in sight and an emphasis on more daywear. Rihanna, one of Rousteing’s muses, would no doubt wear a burnout zebra top paired with high-waisted leather pants during the day and then pour her curves into an embroidered midi dress. Rousteing noted that the collection was much more inclusive than past collections, giving girls more to wear than just minidresses and strong-shouldered evening wear.
The Pre-fall collection included an expanded selection of knitwear as well as a huge array of separates (past collection included nothing but cocktail dresses and red carpet gowns). Peter Beard and Iman’s reputations as party-hoppers also influenced the collection. We could picture Iman and Rihanna both wearing a gladiator skirt, studded and split to look like a sort of Roman rah-rah cheerleader. The Balmain archives influenced the shapes, including a safari jacket, as well as a few of the prints. Prepare to see Rihanna herself in a few of the pieces, because she’s the face of the brand for 2014. From Iman to Rihanna, Rousteing is showing that Balmain is indeed including more than just the party girls of the world.