Olivier Rousteing was only 25 years old when the announcement was made that he would take over Christophe Decarnin’s post at Balmain, the historic French brand that recently experienced a metamorphosis from obscure Peter Sarstedt-cited fashion house into glamorous purveyor of rock ‘n’ roll chic. There were, undoubtedly, lofty expectations for Rousteing, who is now responsible for making his own mark on the brand without sacrificing the decadent aesthetic that Decarnin established as a successful model for bringing in influential consumers as well as an influx of cash. In terms of the menswear for Spring/Summer 2012, however, it appears that he has succeeded. Balmain Homme staples such as leather pants, skin-tight denim, military-inspired outerwear and graphic-printed T-shirts are all here to stay. Rousteing’s subtle but noticeable injection of shrunken formal wear into the collection, however, is well-executed, displaying pieces including a myriad of fitted, shawl-collared blazers in hues from ink black to baby blue. Also new to Balmain is the primary pastel color scheme incorporated by their virtuoso designer, used in corals, yellows and blues on everything from knitwear to fringed scarves, button-downs and henleys. Trademark Balmain excess is exhibited in the use of alligator on several motorcycle vests and, finally, there’s the footwear – classic military boots reinterpreted in light brown suede. Perhaps Rousteing’s most exciting addition to the brand, however, is a pair of black strapped high tops featuring a clean white sole, sure to be appearing on the feet of Kanye West sometime soon.
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