Balmain and Olivier Rousteing celebrate the Pre-Fall 2023 collection with New York-style fete
"Togetherness is so New York to me," Olivier Rousteing reflected at the soiree he and Balmain hosted for the brand's Pre-Fall 2023 collection at New York's iconic Hotel Chelsea. Held in the Piano Room to allow Rainey Qualley's sultry chanteuse voice accompanied by a baby grand for the entertainment, the event allowed his models to mingle with the guests, including clients, influencers, press, and other New York creatives. FashionNetwork.com spoke to the designer about his latest trip Stateside.
"New York is such a great energy. I come from Paris, and I wish we had the same kind of energy. New York is always welcoming and is passionate about fashion, art, and celebrating the present. This city is celebrating today," he said in the charming atrium adjacent to the recently renovated bar space that gave old New York vibes with a gloss up. The energy was generated by guest such as actress Nicole Ari Parker, Love Island’s Aissata Diallo, Tik Toker Davis Burleson, influencer Coco Bassey. Model and Queer community advocate Fernando Casablancas, plus-size influencer and advocate Remi Bader and visual artist Tyler Mazaheri among others.
The format also allowed for up close and personal viewing of the clothes, which, contrary to the bread-and-butter commercial offerings of most Pre-Fall collections, hovered on Haute Couture thanks to intricate beadings, embroidery, and avant-garde shapes such as in a bow-style mini dress or cape-style gowns with coordinating embellished skull caps.
"It's so important to be close to my clients. When you do fashion shows, you have 15 minutes on the runway, but the beauty of having the models walking around the party, enjoying the music in a restaurant, and having a nice drink and food. It's like a 'mise en scene'," he offered, adding, "I love this; people can connect. I am looking for a connection; the pandemic has forced us apart, and it's great today, we can all be together to celebrate Balmain with everyone. It feels we all want this sense of togetherness."
Rousteing had even more reason to feel celebratory in the Big Apple. He is in town to be honored with Geoffroy Van Raemdonck, CEO of Neiman Marcus Group, and Naomi Campbell, Supermodel, and Cultural Innovator, at the 74th Annual Parsons Benefit hosted by The New School the following night. The gala—featuring a runway show of select graduate students' senior collections—honors visionary figures in fashion, business, design, and philanthropy that embody the university's commitment to creativity, innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity.
The accolade humbled the designer. "Receiving this award is a dream come true, especially at this time after ten years at Balmain," he said, adding, "I fought so hard in my career to be who I am, and I keep fighting for my own rules and what I believe the world should be." He was excited to discover the student's work. "I am working with my team so that we will be even more connected with Parsons to hire and recruit talent," he said, eager to discover the next generation of talent.
In one sense, the scene at the Hotel Chelsea also represented the future Rousteing advocates, with multiple generations of guests from different walks of life. Even Qualley—whose stage name for her music is Rainsford—expressed timelessness with renditions of songs such as the classic "Always on My Mind."
"We chose to hold the event here because it's timeless, like what I am doing with Balmain now. I am not looking for hype; I am looking for timelessness. Hype is not cool," he said, referring to the clothes as akin to works of art with embroideries, gold button embellishments, and slick tailoring. "What I am looking for is making a piece of Balmain a mother can give her daughter. Even if it was yesterday, it could be today," he added. Just like the party that channeled the iconic hotel's glory days.
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