On a crisp and chilly Saturday evening, the 20th of January, 2024, fashion enthusiasts and industry insiders converged at La Grande Halle de La Villette to bear witness to a momentous event: the triumphant return of Olivier Rousteing to Men’s Fashion Week, showcasing Balmain’s autumn-winter 2024-2025 collection. This runway show was not just a fashion spectacle; it radiated with exuberance and an infectious positive energy.
The anticipation had been building for four years, a hiatus that had begun in the autumn-winter season of 2020, just weeks before the world was plunged into the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, Olivier Rousteing had either merged his men’s and women’s collections or opted for more subdued presentation formats. So, this return to the spotlight, this solo spotlight for men’s fashion, was a momentous occasion indeed.
As models elegantly glided down the runway, which was adorned with a sumptuous powdery carpet reminiscent of the one that graced Balmain’s historic Rue Pierre Charron salon, one could feel the pulsating passion and unwavering dedication that Olivier Rousteing had poured into this collection. It was an emotional journey, and Rousteing had given a glimpse of his excitement through an Instagram post just before the show, declaring, “I want to be him now […]. I keep repeating to myself after seeing the looks: I want to be HIM.”
Balmain’s autumn-winter 2024-2025 collection was a striking display of vibrant colors and surreal inspirations. Rousteing drew from the sapeurs, a unique cultural community known for their adherence to the principles of the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elégantes. These sapeurs were renowned for their spectacular style, blending French bespoke tailoring with colorful African patterns. Originating in Brazzaville in the 1960s, this distinct style had captivated fashion enthusiasts across continents for decades. Olivier Rousteing’s collection was an ode to the sapeurs, a celebration of their audacious dandyism.
A true music lover, Olivier Rousteing infused elements from iconic Afro-American musicians into his collection. Garters inspired by Tony Jackson, a fearless pianist and composer celebrated for his contributions to ragtime, blues, and Tin-Pan Alley, found their place in the collection. Jackson had established the standard attire for pianists in the early 20th century, and his influence lived on in Rousteing’s designs. The collection also featured durags and grillz, cleverly transformed into armbands and belt buckles, paying homage to the hip-hop and rap artists who had left an indelible mark on Rousteing during his formative years.
With maximalism as his signature, Olivier Rousteing introduced new flamboyant accessories and surreal ornaments to the Balmain collection. These accessories carried a touch of surrealism reminiscent of Elsa Schiaparelli and were meticulously crafted by French artisans. Among the standout pieces were opulent golden metal breastplates by Le Chemin des Maquettes and faces generated by artificial intelligence, printed on layers of crystal.
Rousteing’s explanation for the recurring motif of lips throughout the collection was poetic: “Surrealist symbols often draw upon timeless symbols of love: lips and kisses (and my favorite is the multiple lips motif created by the ‘slaps’ of each member of the Balmain team). And those oversized irises? Well, I believe they continue our message of the need to open our eyes, to clearly witness and celebrate the many different beauties that overlap and merge in today’s world.”
Balmain’s triumphant return to the forefront of men’s fashion was further bolstered by the support of acclaimed photographer Prince Gyasi, known for his previous collaboration with Balmain in 2022 for one of their campaigns. The creative journey for this collection was a collaborative effort, beginning with the selection of a handful of hyperchromatic masterpieces photographed by Prince in his hometown of Accra, Ghana. Determined to match Prince’s artistic inventiveness, Olivier Rousteing and his team worked tirelessly to interpret these photographs in a fresh and surprising manner. They created expansive, vibrant prints of Prince’s work and used textile silhouettes to echo the striking portraits captured by Prince.
The grand finale of the runway show was nothing short of iconic, as supermodel Naomi Campbell graced the stage. She wore a plunging beige top paired with black pants adorned with a belt featuring two hands clutching a bouquet of golden flowers. Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain collection for autumn-winter 2024-2025 was an unequivocal triumph, marking a spirited and energetic return to the realm of men’s fashion, a journey that resonated with artistic influences, cultural celebrations, and a vision of beauty that transcended boundaries.
Watch the full show on
Designer: Olivier Rousteing
Fashion Editor/Stylist: Imruh Asha
Hair Stylist: Ilham Mestour
Models: Adamu Bulus, Andrew Ohawa, Bradley Veragten, Cherif Douamba, Chol Mabior, Cihat Seyhun, Craig Shimirimana, Daniel Pelofe, Djily Kamara, Elias Monstrey, Elvis Candy-Radovanovic, Evans Ikechukwu, Feranmi Ayeni, Gabriel Nhial, Hakim Deng, Jack Cooper, Jaehyung An, Lebo Malope, Makur Mabor, Mamadou Diagne, Mamuor Majeng, Marial Akech, Mathieu Simoneau, Moustapha Sy, Mumin Jangani, Naomi Campbell, Ottawa Kwami, Reece Myles, Samuel Elie, Shawn Lun, Tass Sarr, Walid Fiher, Xinyu Feng, Xu Meen, Yoesry Detre, York Jun, Yuto Ebihara