All aboard the Balmain barge of hope! On a cool Parisienne summer’s evening last Sunday, Olivier Rousteing along with 21 models sailed down the Seine on what might have been the most fashionable barge to ever grace the city’s famous waterway. Featuring looks from the Maison’s couture archives and keeping a two-meter distance between each model, the spectacle was a socially-distant celebration of “rediscovery, eternal values, and better days ahead.” Commemorating couture week and in honor of the brand’s 75th anniversary, the barge set sail from the Eiffel Tower and traveled towards the Notre-Dame, being accompanied along the way by performances from French singer Yseult, and dances choreographed by Jean-Charles Jousni.
“Today, reunited with friends (while continuing to practice social distancing!), we celebrate our return to Paris,” the creative director said in a statement. Cognizant of his surroundings and the state of affairs world over, he said: “while we may be happy to toast our deconfinement, we know all too well that danger is still very much with us and we think of all those who are now passing through the most difficult moments of the pandemic.”
Commenting on the parallels between the House’s history, having been founded in the aftermath of World War II, and the difficult circumstances it is facing today, Rousteing noted the importance of providing hope. Speaking to the complications of not only the global pandemic but the pandemic of racism that has become a major talking point in the last month, the designer said, “as we all know, other struggles continue. Renewed calls for justice and equality—heard on streets all across the world today—are in reaction to tragic losses, but their growing strength and force allow us to dream of the possibilities of long-delayed changes, pushed forward by a newly energized and impressive mix of young, determined and diverse voices.”
Urging fans of the brand to join him in seeking positivity amid the darkness, Rousteing referenced his own journey as a testament of hope. “Where is all today’s optimism coming from?” he remarked. “Perhaps it’s a reflection of my own personal history—after all, it was not too long ago that someone like me was never meant to end up in the position that I occupy today. Change happens. Progress is possible.”
Showcasing Balmain’s evolution over the last decade, Rousteing’s presentation focused on the craftsmanship of some of his key dress and jacket designs; demonstrating “how the 21st-Century Balmain silhouette channels the spirit of past masters.” Using Paris as his backdrop, the unforgettable show highlighted much of the darkness plaguing our world, while also passing on an unrelenting baton of hope to anyone who chooses to receive it.