balmain resort 2012
(images via style)
i’ve in the past made it no secret that i find the critical waves of praise heaped upon balmain like so many desperate grabs from fans for a kiss from a movie star (especially in the case of the ‘punk’ s/s 2011 range), and as we embark on a new era, under the creative directorship of 25-year-old olivier rousteing, for resort 2012, the acclaim remains the same, as i sit in my corner, as ever, scratching the perplexity out of my embattled scalp.
you’ll recall, perhaps, that during the last round of paris bouts (for a/w 2011), then-designer christophe decarnin was alleged to be having personal troubles and (for all of his skill at ratcheting up the scalding heat on the label’s sales), was unceremoniously dumped earlier this year. but for all they were quick to rid themselves of him, the aesthetic he popularized (see a/w 2010 for a good example), remains and his former underling was crowned to retain it later that same month.
thus, for the cruise collection, which was inspired by california and native americans (with hints of mexico and elvis during one of his las vegas stints), we were subject to silhouettes which often times came so close to the work of mr. decarnin, one couldn’t help but wonder if they’d first been sketched by him (dress at bottom being a case in point). however, style and wwd didn’t seem to mind the stasis—the raves rained in, the latter proclaiming the range “full of the usual gems.”
i’d like to take the opportunity to point out, of course, that for all my reservations regarding pricing, repositioning streetwear as something to sell at scandalous profits to the very rich, and unvarying appearance season in-and-out, balmain as it stands is a thing of beauty. indeed, couture-like techniques are often employed in the fabrication of their collections, with embroidery, beading, draping, and other embellishments displaying such a concise detail as to be virtually unparalleled in the ready-to-wear universe.
as ever, of course, that was still apparent—as were abbreviated hemlines, v-necks cut halfway to the navel, lean military-esque blazers, and seventies fit-and-flare trousers. however, mr. rousteing did switch things up, if slightly, chez balmain with the relaxed track pants and t-shirts (as below) he introduced to the range (today taking on the decadent approach to american sportswear). it was indeed a welcome change to the eye, but nevertheless left a certain wariness: how much does the brand propose to charge for a pair of workout pants boasting neither glove-precision fitting nor some of its storied bling?
in the end, it’s just rather difficult to proffer up much respect for a label that long ago seemed to snatch up a formula, refusing to rise to the changes of the time, and instead feels as much like the assembly-line henry ford long ago introduced in a coldhearted effort to maximize outputs and profit. only here, balmain does nothing to pass on it’s savings from the uniform-ization of the design process to the customer—rather the opposite, in fact, having caused much consternation for their “prestige pricing" in the past. perhaps if we see it for what it is—pretty clothes—and no more, we’re better off. saving our cash money for something that feels more deserving, but even here, i can’t help but feel cheated a little: by taking our time, demanding our attention for a new collection, shouldn’t they at least put a little more effort into giving us more than just new colours on the same, same, same?