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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Balmain announces a return to haute couture

The French house, under designer Olivier Rousteing, will present a couture collection after 16 years

Past creations by designer Olivier Rousteing for Balmain. AFP 
Past creations by designer Olivier Rousteing for Balmain. AFP 

Balmain will show haute couture after being absent from that highest end of the fashion spectrum for 16 years.

In what can only be seen as validation that couture is still relevant in today’s age, the return to couture for this storied French house is also a return to its own history.

Pierre Balmain founded the label in 1945 as a couture house, and the designer was famed for his mastery of couture techniques. American writer Alice Toklas, who was part of the Parisian avant-garde, wrote of Balmain’s first collection: “Suddenly there was the awakening to a new understanding of what mode really was, the embellishment and the intensification of women’s form and charm.”

Balmain’s last haute couture collection was staged in 2002, under Oscar de la Renta. The brand ceased making couture that same year, citing declining interest and impracticality.

Today, under the guidance of designer Olivier Rousteing, who has been in place since 2011, Balmain has undergone a transformation. Present owner Mayhoola has also injected that all-important cash flow back into the brand. This increased funding enabled Rousteing to build up his atelier – the beating heart of every couture house - which then allowed him to present a couture-quality collection in Paris in January.

Entitled 44 rue François 1er, after the brand’s Paris address, the collection signalled a readiness to return to the precise and rarefied couture fold, which has now been formalised by this latest announcement.

The Balmain haute couture collection is expected to debut in Paris next January, and will place Balmain alongside the houses of Chanel, Christian Dior and Valentino, as creators of the finest, most spectacular fashion in the world.

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