Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing talks diversity and the upcoming documentary about his life story
With a film on the life of veteran couturier Pierre Cardin under way, a documentary on the story of one of Paris’ glitziest fashion prodigies — Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing — is also nearing completion.
The designer told WWD that the film, which is being produced by the team behind the 2009 documentary “Valentino: Last Emperor,” will wrap this summer and is due for release in early 2019, with the distribution channels yet to be confirmed.
The film mixes the personal and the professional, from his roots and growing up with his adoptive parents in Bordeaux, France, to his designer success story, including “some of the struggles encountered in getting to where I am, the work that has gone into it and the critiques,” he said.
“It’s going to be a beautiful message, it’s going to be a big thing,” added Rousteing, acknowledging that the project is an unusual move considering his young age. “A documentary about my life when I’m only in my 30s, it’s a bit like when I had to do the collaboration with H&M based on Balmain’s DNA when I’d only been at the house for like four and a half years. I’ve been at Balmain for eight years now, it’s not like Mr. Valentino or Pierre Cardin, but that’s interesting as well because I feel sometimes that my life is like a [fashion paradox]; I feel misunderstood sometimes,” said the designer, whose world is increasingly aligning with the entertainment industry.
For the Cannes Film Festival in May, he dressed 16 actresses for a press call for the project “Noire N’est Pas Mon Métier,” or “Black Is Not My Profession,” aimed at exposing discrimination in the French and American entertainment industries.
“[The project] touches me because being colored doesn’t have to define you. I know that sometimes people don’t like to talk about it, but I think it’s good to be loud about some things in order to push the [way things evolve in] the future. For me, when you listen to those 16 actresses you understand the struggles they face with discrimination and being stereotyped….I’m sure that certain choices that I made in my life had a different kind of result because of my color….Sometimes there is racism that is not expressed, but it exists,” said the designer, who welcomes Virgil Abloh’s appointment at Louis Vuitton as men’s artistic director as a sign that “the world is showing that diverse colors [can exist] in that job,” but also the importance of connecting with the younger generations.
“We are living in a world where we understand what the younger generations need, and that’s what excites me the most. When we talk about Millennials, it’s not just about putting a Millennials hashtag on Instagram, it’s about thinking like the new generation. And for me, Virgil is talking to the new generations; he knows and understands what people want, and I’m excited about that,” said Rousteing, who also confirmed that the virtual reality concept in Balmain’s new concept store in Milan will be rolled out through the brand’s stores, including the new Miami flagship set to open in November.
“For me, virtual reality is the future. I really believe it’s going to change fashion shows and the dynamic of journalists and influencers at some point, it’s going to be a revolution. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said, adding, when asked how his documentary will end: “I can just say it will end in a beautiful moment of peace.”