The Balmain Fall 2022 Collections
I very much wish that the message behind Balmain’s Fall 2022 designs had not become so relevant, so timely.
Our men’s and women’s collections—channeling the need for knowledge, honesty and transparency to form the key arms of our collective push-back against lies, hate and aggression—may seem to be inspired by the anxiety-inducing headlines of the past week. But, of course, such a quick reaction could never have been possible. My team and I have been preparing these designs for months and our runway offerings were almost 100% completed before previously inconceivable scenarios and images began dominating our evening news and nightmares.
Late last year, when I first began sketching these collections, my inspiration was a much more personal one: my response to not-always-pleasurable experiences on social media.
Like so many others, I had initially—naïvely—believed that digital innovation would eventually be a force for nothing but positive changes. I was convinced that a more immediate and direct form of communication would enable new ways of sharing creative visions, while finally allowing everyone an entrance into fashion’s restricted runways and showrooms. And, yes, there have been many positive developments in fashion due to tech advances. But by now we’ve become all too familiar with the downsides of our new digital lives.
Much of my recent unhealthy obsession with hiding any signs of changes, discoloration and scarring as I healed from burns that I suffered last year can be directly traced to the fears that I had of exposing myself to the poisonous power of anonymous posters’ scornful judgements. But ultimately, that experience helped pushed me to realize that the only possible response to the incredible shaming potential of social media is to face it head on—addressing it with honesty and clarity, while drawing courage from the support and love of others. That was a breakthrough moment for me, a radical change of behavior that I can only describe as being truly liberating.
That experience explains why so many pale colors—whites, creams, light pastels, soft denims—are so prominent on today’s runway. In the Balmain universe, these are not the tones of sweetness and vulnerability—no, instead they remind us that there is a special type of affirmative clout that comes with truth and transparency. That surprising freeing power also explains the unlikely pairings of lace and other seemingly light and fragile fabrics with metal and neoprene. The collection’s distinctive silhouettes riff on safety—playing with powerfully protective wraps, shields and gilets. These unique combinations—light and delicate touches mixed with symbols of security and strength— reflect recent lessons learned: we need not be defenseless in the face of toxic pile-ons, if we can depend on individual honesty, collective empathy and shared hopes for progress.
In the end, Saint-Exupéry had it right (Saint-Exupéry always has it right!) when he wrote: Il est bien plus difficile de se juger soi-même que de juger autrui. Si tu réussis à bien te juger, c'est que tu es un véritable sage. (It is much more difficult to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself correctly, then you are truly a wise person.)*
Finally, while these runway offerings were not designed as a direct response to the recent horrific invasion of our neighbors and I would never dare to even think of comparing the suffering that they are going through right now with the problems that I have had with social media... still, as we watch the news, my team and I do keep in mind this collection's message: united in solidarity, we can rely on the power of hope and truth to push back against hate, lies and aggression.
2 March 2022
*Please note: This quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Le Petit Prince” as well as this release’s English translation have been used with the kind approval of the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Estate.