Olivier Rousteing creates a Spring collection as opulent and Parisian as the venue itself

Set at the baroque Opera Garnier, the Balmain Spring 2018 runway show paid homage to France. In lieu of a generic inspiration statement, Rousteing wrote a letter to his 22-year-old self, describing a life that, at the time, he may not have been able to fathom — designing ballet costumes for and staging a show at the Opera Garnier, working with supermodels and musicians, and so on.

Creative Director Olivier Rousteing did Balmain signatures with a cool-girl spin, almost entirely in black and white, which helped the looks feel a little more refined than they have in seasons past — albeit in a very ’80s, very excessive and very Balmain sort of way. Shiny, plastic-y surfaces were big, from the opening black chain-strap overalls to a completely see-through pair of pants, coat and top with an almost newsprint-like “Balmain” logo print. The house’s signature short, body-con, long-sleeve dresses were done with all manner of beads, baubles and fringe hanging off of them, while a wide range of longer, equally body-hugging skirts and dresses also tended to have an excessive number of design elements — including but not limited to: cutouts, feathers, chain mail, tutus, zippers, bra cups and sequins.

Offering kind of a nice balance to all those constricting pieces, however, were a number of looser, more relaxed silhouettes for the Parisian woman who’s going for that effortless-cool vibe but still wants some glamour and sparkle: logo T-shirts, oversize tops, loose trousers and overalls were among the more “casual” options, though they all still had plenty of sparkle.

At the end, Rousteing came out with all his models behind him, a blur of feather and tuft and pin and gold and frayed graphic. The designer had played with new shapes, and one with a spurt of layered ruffle at the hem.

Go backstage and watch as the Balmain Army prepares for a glamorous Spring runway show with an edge.