Balmain Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Let Them Wear Grapes

Khaki pants on a Balmain runway? You bet. Olivier Rousteing designed a host of terrific trousers for fall, proving that he’s a designer you can’t really pigeonhole.

Backstage, he seemed in awe of his runway models, tilted for the first time toward the mature end of the age spectrum and carrying his hefty-shouldered trenchcoats, the epaulettes tacked with big gold snail-shaped buttons, with aplomb and self-awareness.

He introduced everyone to statuesque Bethany, already dressed in the opening look and holding her bag close to her ribs. “We are celebrating women,” Rousteing enthused about his all-ages cast. “She’s powerful, she’s strong, she’s confident and she’s beautiful.”

Sticking with his intimate salon format, and continuing his exploration of Pierre Balmain’s archives, the designer moved on from spring’s floral motifs to fruits, charmed by the founder’s apple, nut and strawberry embellishments, the latter appearing as an offbeat belt buckle on Bethany’s waist.

“It’s about timeless elegance, and an homage to French culture,” he said, explaining that the theme led him to reference his hometown of Bordeaux and its winemaking legacy via a host of grape prints, grape earrings, grape handbag charms and big gold bunches of grapes carried in lieu of a handbag.

Gingham, synonymous with picnics in the French countryside, also made an appearance, including in a sparkling, checkered evening column in a distinctive blue that made you think of recent Burberry.

But this collection was 100 percent Rousteing-era Balmain, unafraid of exuberant embellishments and always pushing the atelier to the limits in terms of draping, pleating, beading and leatherwork. There were fierce, sleeveless X-shaped jackets and others with one lapel jutting up past the jaw and framed in golden metal.

Rousteing’s idea of offhand chic is a pair of loose khakis topped with a bustier in molded leather, or what looked like handblown, color-drenched Murano glass.

“Savoir-faire is an obsession,” he said. “I really want to make sure that all the suppliers from Italy, France and around the world can keep working.”

Some squeeze grapes; others embroider them.

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