After a four-year hiatus, Balmain Homme made a triumphant return to the runway with its Fall 24 collection, revealing an array of striking statement pieces. In the days leading up to the show, the brand's Instagram teased the emergence of a new 'Bal-man,' creating anticipation for a masculine rebirth that would blend Pierre's feminine archive, distinctive tailoring, and the dandy ethos of legendary African 'sapeurs.'
The sapeurs, devoted adherents of the fashion and cultural phenomenon known as La Sape, derive their elegance from the Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant People (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes in French). This movement, which rose to prominence in the 1960s, found its roots in Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the vibrant capitals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The runway not only marked the revival of masculinity but also threw a playful kiss to critics through lips shaped in an ironic wink.
The Cultural Melting Pot:
Olivier Rousteing, the creative force behind Balmain, curated a mood board that served as a riot of colours and cultural influences. Inspired by the sapeurs, who adhere to the ten commandments of the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elégantes, the collection delves into diverse styles. From the elegance of Tony Jackson's sleeve garters to the bold expressions of hip-hop and rap artists, the runway weaves a narrative spanning a century of African-American musical genius. It's a breathtaking fusion that encapsulates the essence of cultural diversity in the world of fashion.
The sapeurs, known for their exuberant mix of tailored French silhouettes and vibrant African patterns, provided a captivating source of inspiration for the Fall 24 collection. Their style continues to command attention on streets across the globe and Balmain's creations stand as a shining testament to the harmonious fusion of the finest elements from diverse cultures. The collection seamlessly marries the atelier's mastery in tailoring with global influences, crafting a narrative that transcends borders and celebrates the richness of cultural diversity.
American Music Legacy:
Balmain's runway pays homage to the powerful spirit of American musicians, channelling a century's worth of African-American musical genius. Inspired by the likes of Tony Jackson, the collection incorporates durags and plays on silver and golden grills, reminiscent of hip-hop and rap artists. The new Espion, a limited-edition oversized wrap-around frame from Balmain Eyewear, adds a touch of hip-hop's VIP attitude.
Collaboration and Artistic Vision:
Olivier Rousteing's collaboration with photographer and visual artist Prince Gyasi also adds a unique dimension to the collection. Gyasi expresses excitement about the common distinctive outlook they share, which allows them to create vibrant designs that resonate with the entire Balmain runway. Both are outsiders in their respective fields, and their collaborative work gave viewers surprise, excitement, and pleasure during the show.
Balmain's FW24 Men's collection, is a rebellious antithesis of quiet luxury, embracing riotous colours and cultural influences. Naomi Campbell, catwalk royalty, closed the show wearing a subdued beige cashmere jacket, underscoring the dynamic range of the collection.
Balmain's triumphant return to the runway is not merely a fashion event but a celebration of vibrant creativity, cultural fusion, and the rebirth of masculine style.
Words by Jjheanelle Feanny