From a musical péniche gliding through the center of Paris to under-the-star runways dedicated to virtual show attendees, Olivier Rousteing has overseen a series of innovative solutions, in order to present his vision of Balmain’s distinctive optimism and heritage during 2020’s long months of lockdowns and worries. This second episode of l’Atelier Balmain explores Olivier Rousteing’s dedication to adapting Pierre Balmain impressive legacy for today’s generation.
CREDITS L’ATELIER BALMAIN EPISODE TWO
A SINGULAR HERITAGE
Balmain Creative Director: Olivier Rousteing
Music: “Noir” by Yseult - Artist: Yseult Composers: Yseult, Ziggy Franzen, Romain Descampe Label: Believe Music (on behalf of naïve/Y.Y.Y); Sony ATV Publishing, and 1 Music Rights Societies
Additional music: Jean-Michel Derain
Episode Directed and Produced by: Seb Lascoux
Balmain Historian: Julia Guillon
Episode Coordination: Alya Nazaraly
Research Assistance: Fatoumata Conte and Pénélope André
Digital Coordination/Graphic Identity: Jeremy Macé
Episode researched, written and presented by: John Gilligan
To explore further:
Pierre Balmain’s Autobiography: My Years and Seasons, Doubleday, 1965
This Episode’s Music:
Balmain’s Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing, makes clear—collection after collection—that he believes that fashion can never be separated from music. Inspired by Rousteing, each l’Atelier Balmain podcast carefully selects artists and music that reflect and strengthen the story being told.
In February 2021, Olivier Rousteing and the entire Balmain team were thrilled to see Yseult acclaimed as France’s best new talent of the year, during the ceremony of the Victoires de la Musique (the French equivalent of the Grammys). Seven months earlier, Yseult had cruised through a sunny Paris atop a reconfigured peniche—alongside Olivier Rousteing and his models and dancers— singing her beautiful compositions during the Balmain-Sur-Seine presentation.
Yseult is known for giving her own modern take on the classic style of the “variété française.” “I grew up listening to Edith Piaf, Barbara, Jacques Brel, Lara Fabian, Patricia Kaas,” she explained to the Guardian after her Victoires win. “The pared-down French classicism of their songs was what I always wanted my own music to be about.”
To that signature Parisian sound, Yseult makes sure to add her strong, modern and engaged voice, calling for true racial equality and body positivism. A year ago, she released the song “Noir,” which you hear in the background of this episode. Once again beginning with the iconic voice-piano mix of French classic songs, Yseult manages to go much deeper—as she always does—celebrating her own beauty, while recalling daily struggles.
In his press release for the Balmain-Sur-Seine presentation, Olivier Rousteing discussed how 2020’s tragic events of racial violence had deeply moved him—and how he had managed to find hope in the impressive popular responses that we all witnessed—once which filled the streets both in France and America. “These renewed calls for justice and equality—heard on streets all across the world today—are in reaction to tragic losses, but their growing strength and force allow us to dream of the possibilities of long-delayed changes, pushed forward by a newly energized and impressive mix of young, determined and diverse voices.”
And Rousting’s belief that progress is possible was clearly echoed in each and every one of the songs and dances selected for the Balmain-sur-Seine moment.
Casser les codes ouais, ouais, toute ma life ouais, ouais
Tracer ma route ouais, ouais, toute ma life ouais, ouais
Noir et fière de l'être, ça, c'est toute ma life, ya, ya, ya
Tout est noir, tout est noir
Dans ma vie que tout est noir
Serrer les dents, toute ma life, tout est noir dans ma life
Serrer les dents, toute ma life
Toute ma life
Toute ma life
Toute ma life
Break the codes yeah, yeah, all my life yeah, yeah
Make my way yeah, yeah, all my life yeah, yeah
Black and proud of it, that's my whole life, ya, ya, ya
Everything is black, everything is black
In my life that everything is black
Grit my teeth, all my life, everything is black in my life