Balmain Pre-Fall 2021

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“Socializing, flirting, traveling and celebrating.” Those by-now-almost-foreign words jump out of Balmain’s pre-fall press release — as tantalizing as a glass of rosé on a picturesque Paris terrace. They were penned by creative director Olivier Rousteing, who wants the coronavirus to jump in a lake, sink to the bottom and never return.

“I don’t want to think about lockdown any more. I mean, I have to, but it doesn’t make me dream,” he declared during a preview, taking a break from a live photo shoot in the window of Balmain’s Paris flagship — his latest gesture to connect with fashion fans and professionals IRL.

His willful optimism was written all over the bold and frothy collection, much of it in pink and blue, awash in lavish embroideries and those freaky pagoda shoulders he introduced on the runway for spring 2021.

Balmain Pre-Fall 2021

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The designer is banking on life returning to offices, streets, theaters and restaurants by the end of next year — and he’s convinced people have purchased enough designer sweats and hoodies and will instead invest in clothes with oomph, whether tailored or dressy.

“Identifiable and unique” are the qualities that will matter, he insisted. “They’ll want to spend their money for something that has value.”

Besides reprising those peaked and demonstrative shoulders, on jackets and diaphanous blouses alike, Rousteing revisited some ideas from a decade ago, when he was probably the youngest creative director in Paris, only 26, and turning out minidresses as elaborately embellished as Fabergé eggs. He said he once again pushed the atelier to the limit, incorporating guipure lace, macrame and broderie anglaise into many women’s looks. While the eye went to the flashier ensembles on his “run-of-show” board – silver lame gowns and pink, densely textured and beaded minidresses – there were also some perfectly calm nautical shirtdresses, great blazers and striped sweaters.

The designer is also still gung-ho about the PB monogram he dug out from the archives initially for a line of handbags known as Balmain 1945, the year the French couture house was founded. Now that Seventies motif is plastered on every conceivable garment and accessory for women and men — and even the backdrop for that live look book shoot. Wearing a monogram hoodie, pants and face mask, Rousteing maneuvered around the little set with his camera in a mesmerizing display of the pattern, letting spectators on the sidewalk play a designer game of “Where’s Waldo.”

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