Unlike some couture houses that have turned their back on what they once were, Balmain has always proudly remained true to the vision and trailblazing spirit of its founder. Since Pierre Balmain’s death in 1982, the house has been guided by a series of strong designers, each balancing modern offerings with the need to respect the foundations and traditions of the house. These designers—Erik Mortensen, Herve-Pierre, Oscar de la Renta, Laurent Mercier and Christophe Decarnin—were all inspired by the colors, fluidity and elegance of Balmain’s signature “Jolie Madame” aesthetic.
Olivier Rousteing was named as the label’s designer in 2011 and his critically and commercially acclaimed collections have helped to push the label forward on its pathway of rapid growth. Rousteing is influenced by the unique confident style of today’s modern women as well as the work of the masters who have guided Balmain before him. He incorporates the house’s well-known mastery of tailoring, embroidery and traditional techniques of classic couture into his collections.
Just as Pierre Balmain stressed that his first objective was “to always dress women in the right look for the right moment,” Rousteing aims to create designs that chime with the way women of his generation are dressing now. The young designer’s couture spirit—seen in his careful attention to unique and handwrought details—is balanced by his collections’ very modern silhouette.
Pierre Balmain’s beautiful atelier and showroom at 44 Rue Francois 1er, in the heart of Paris’ exclusive “triangle d'or” neighborhood, has remained the house’s iconic flagship address throughout its history. In 2009, the historic boutique was restored to its original 18th-century grandeur by Parisian architect Joseph Dirand. The elegant space—with its gold-leaf trimmed doors, 1940’s classic furniture, Versailles parquet floors and elaborate ceiling moldings—recalls the address’ original function as an aristocratic residence and serves as a template for many of the brand’s boutiques and shop-in-shops around the world.