Balmain-sur-Seine was… Interesting

Balmain-sur-Seine (Photo Credit: @Balmain)

Balmain was the first brand to present a socially distanced collection during the Fall 2020 Couture Week. Instead of the usual catwalk, the presentation took place on a boat that was boarded near the Eiffel tower and navigated through the Seine river. Besides photos and small videos posted on the brand’s Instagram, they also created a three-minute video available on YouTube and the website of the Féderation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.

Named Balmain-sur-Seine, this collection was a celebration of the brand’s 75th anniversary. To honor the history of the house, Olivier Rousteing decided to take out some of his early creations from the archive, a few outfits from the last collection, and pieces created by the previous creative directors Pierre Balmain, Eric Mortensen and Oscar de la Renta. There was also a presentation by French singer Yseult, and by 50 dancers.

Balmain-sur-Seine (Photo Credit: @Balmain)

The concept for the collection was nice, to pay homage to Balmain’s heritage, to not spend so many fabrics during a time they are scarce, the idea of enjoying beauty. But the final product was…interesting.

A couture garment can sometimes take over 200 hours to be made, it is meant to celebrate (and show) exquisite craftsmanship and have an amazing fit. A couture garment is meant to look as if it was molded to the body of the person wearing it. One of the dresses was ripped in the back. It would be lovely to have an explanation for it (Did it happen while the model got dressed? Did they just didn’t see it?), which would still not make it acceptable for a couture gown to be ripped in the middle of a presentation. IT’S COUTURE! IT REQUIRES MASSIVE ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND EXQUISITE QUALITY! ALSO, PHOTOSHOPPING IT DOESN’T MAKE IT BETTER!

There were also a lot of ready-to-wear pieces by Rousteing, and they were relatively new. It would be interesting for the atelier to get these pieces and give it an haute couture treatment. Better fit, rework the embroideries, change fabrics…A ready-to-wear garment don’t come with a custom fit, doesn’t require as much time and craftsmanship to be made, and costs a fraction of the price. If Balmain didn’t want this collection to be seen as couture, then it would have been better if it was presented after or much earlier than the Couture Week dates. That being said, the photos, video and performances were really nice.


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