Even if the closest the majority of us are set to get to the fashion launch party of the year this evening is via Instagram, it’s still time to celebrate as the most exciting and hotly anticipated collaboration of the year is almost here! On November 5th the Balmain x H & M collection will hit stores and the web as the Swedish retailer once again makes the dream of owning high fashion pieces an affordable reality for those lucky (and quick) enough to get their hands on them. The look book has been revealed and it most certainly does not disappoint. The signature opulence one expects from Balmain is as prevalent as ever, from heavy pearl embellishments and gold buttons to luxuriant satins and velvets, creative director Olivier Rousteing has pulled out all of the stops. In an interview with Vogue, Rousteing emphasised the importance of the collection having ‘that feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness’ and the obvious attention to detail means this high street offering feels distinctly luxurious and distinctly, well, Balmain.
When considering the huge popularity of Balmain with young people- most of whom who could never actually afford to wear anything from a couture house- the importance of Rousteing cannot be underestimated. Having come to the helm in 2011 aged only 25, Rousteing has proved immensely popular not only with legions of fans on social media (he has over 1.4 milion followers on Instagram) but also with the hottest celebrities of the moment. He’s BFFs with Kim and Kanye- both of whom fronted the Balmain Spring/Summer menswear campaign 2015 – and other members of his #BalmainArmy include Gigi and Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and Cara Delevigne. The models he picks to be a part of his Balmain campaigns may look otherworldly, but they have a wide spread appeal that taps into the consciousness of the younger generation especially. His ongoing friendship with and casting of Kendall Jenner is nothing short of genius when considering how Rousteing has popularised Balmain with a young demographic. The H & M collaboration can be seen as a continuation of this modernising drive, as by making Balmain more affordable the brand is not only broadening its public appeal but is ensuring the support of millions of fans who by buying into #HMBalmaination (a hashtag Rousteing personally checks on every day) can finally feel a part of the Balmain army themselves.
The first sneak peak of the collection we were given was at the Billboard music Awards in May and since then the buzz around the line has been incredible. Rousteing attended with two of the ‘faces’ of the campaign- Kendall Jenner and Jourdan Dunn- and it is from that moment on that I (along with what seems like literally the entire online fashion community) have been desperate to get my hands on THAT jacket. The black oversized jacket with structured shoulders and an abundance of pearl embellishment, sported by Kendall as a kind of dress, is the epitome of what this collaboration is about. The craftsmanship is truly astonishing; Balmain’s signature embroidery and all round decorative glamour is as present as in the main line- the pieces still feel like couture and yet will cost a fraction of the price.
The beautifully tailored, structured jackets also scream ‘Balmain’ in that they are sophisticated and yet sexy at the same time. The blazer style jacket in black velvet is another personal favourite of mine, the large gold buttons are testament to the military vibes that shape Rousteing’s aesthetic. The gorgeous double breasted black leather jacket with gold detailing also has a military feel to it and yet, like the rest of the collection, still manages to look incredibly feminine thanks to the clever, couture inspired fits-like-a-glove tailoring. The line feels far from utilitarian, the signature sequin and embellished dresses ooze disco glitz and glamour and keep the collection feeling youthful. The accessories showcased in the look book are undoubtedly bold, the massive chunky gold pieces add to the opulence that the rich colours (saffron yellow, bottle greens and pinks) evoke. Sky-high hemlines keep much of the collection, especially the heavily embroidered pieces, from looking fussy or old-fashioned. These mini dresses are classic Balmain- think the Faberge egg style masterpiece worn by Kim K. over her ‘wedding weekend’- and will likely be the most coveted items in the collection.
However, for those of us expecting H & M prices, one of the limited edition embellished minis is reportedly set to go on sale at £399, so clearly craftsmanship still has its costs. Full prices have yet to have been disclosed but my guess is that the line is still going to seem pretty expensive for the average high street shopper. That being said, the first advert to be released prices the sequined green v-neck dress at £119, which as a slightly less fear-inducing number can serve as a useful indicator of what the majority of the collection is likely to cost. Accessories will also be available, although there is speculation as to which pieces shown in the look book will actually be sold (women all over the net are praying for those over-the-knee black boots). There is also a menswear line that, whilst slightly more utilitarian in spirit, is equal in artistry to the women’s collection.
So, despite the fact that the average shopper may have to raid their savings in order invest in their own little bit of the French haute couture fashion house, this unique lux collection speaks for itself. On November 5th an early morning, an overdraft and a possible punch up in a store seems not only possible but necessary for any fashion lover on a (sort of) budget. Rousteing said in an interview with Vogue that ‘Balmain is about the new generation, and when you wear the clothes, I want you to feel sexy and fierce’; if nothing else this stunning collection is testament to how innovators like Rousteing are starting to open the doors of couture to young people all over the world.