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Balmain Leaned All the Way Into the Social Media Aesthetic for Fall 2018

Inspired in part by "the world's first digital accessory" — the Snapchat filter — the collection also included nods to KiraKira and the Insta-famous unicorn beauty trend, with eye-popping neons and logos galore.
The Balmain Fall 2018 finale. Photo: Imaxtree

The Balmain Fall 2018 finale. Photo: Imaxtree

There are few top designers in the world today who are as digitally savvy as Balmain's Artistic Director Olivier Rousteing. The 32-year-old powerhouse, who took creative lead of the French house in 2011, currently boasts a whopping 4.7 million Instagram followers on his personal account; the brand's page has an impressive 7.8 million. Plus, he's carefully built up a "Balmain Army" comprised of the most influential models and celebrities in the social media space, including both Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Joan Smalls, Cara Delevingne and many more. Many of the women calling on Balmain for a sexy, statement-making party dress tend to be big personalities in some right — maybe a global pop star or a cast member from a "Real Housewives" franchise. Rousteing's wares play exceedingly well — and are extremely recognizable — on Instagram and beyond, so it makes total sense that, for Fall 2018 he leaned all the way into the social media aesthetic.

In his collection notes, Rousteing wrote that he aimed to pay homage to the always forward-thinking founder of his label, Pierre Balmain, this season. To accomplish this, he took the traditional Balmain silhouettes and modernized them for the digital generation. There were flashy, fluorescent colors and screen saver-like graphic prints; lots of worn-in denim and relaxed separates in sweatshirt material; T-shirts, dresses and pants emblazoned with the "Balmain Paris" logo; super-shiny silver metallics, oil-slick black latex that reflected dramatic rainbows under the runway lights and lots of Balmain's signature intricate embroidery. Despite his emphasis on looking ahead, there was a strong '80s thread through much of the show, thanks to sharp shoulders aplenty, bold clashing hues and a soundtrack that included A-ha's "Take On Me" and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love."

Some looks were more inspired by social media than others: The iridescent jackets, paillette dresses and plastic outerwear recalled the very Insta-famous unicorn beauty trend, while the bedazzled pieces near the end of the show seemed to be made specifically for the KiraKira app. To go along with the collection, Rousteing even designed his own Snapchat filter — something he refers to as "the world's first digital accessory" — that makes user's faces sparkle with flawless skin, bright doe eyes, glossy lips and camera-ready lighting, all under a subtle neon glow. It results in the type of photo that only Instagram pros (like Rousteing himself, a master of the "selfie face") seem to be able to achieve, and mere mortals can only dream of — that is, unless they're fluent in Facetune and filters. It's an accessible way for fans and followers of the brand to experience it: While they might not be able to post a 'fit pic in a four-figure dress from the label like a Jenner or a Hadid, they can at least feel confident and included in the "Balmain Army," if only for the hours that their Snapchat story is live.

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Yes, these pieces are loud, wild and more than a little bit extra, but if you're hoping to rack up some serious Instagram likes, this is the collection for you.

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