This Balmain Corset Makes for a Very Modern Suit of Armour

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Priscilla is wearing a vintage pinstripe wool blazer from Beyond Retro. Metal asymmetric corset by Balmain. Denim trousers by MM6Photography by Andrew Nuding, Styling by Nicola Neri

Olivier Rousteing’s silver-hammered corsets and breast-plates see the designer’s military inspirations meet the robust glamour of high-shine metal

Olivier Rousteing took the helm of Balmain in 2011 at 25 years old. He succeeded Christophe Decarnin, who had already laid down the groundwork of modernising the French fashion house, by chopping up the haute couture codes established by its founder and reassembling them for the bourgeois woman of the noughties. Gone were the ‘stuffy’ suiting and ‘ceremonial’ ballgowns; in their place were ready-to-wear skin-tight leather, crystal-embellished denim and – of course – those military jackets. 

The Balmain military jacket, which once upon a time had very little to do with the brand’s history, is now synonymous with its identity. And Rousteing, who worked under Decarnin before becoming creative director, has run with the military theme to make even more of a statement, with a house tagline worthy of the Instagram age: #BALMAINARMY. “A woman who is going to wear Balmain is a warrior,” he said in 2015. “The women I dress are powerful, they are strong, they are women who are going to change the world.” 

For the Spring/Summer 2019 collection, this sentiment remained steadfast for Rousteing. Here, he travelled to ancient Egypt via 1980s Paris, with exaggerated, pointed power shoulders meeting prints of Cleopatra and the robust glamour of high-shine metal. The latter came in the form of hooded chainmail pieces and silver hammered corsets and breast-plates, which paid clear homage to Thierry Mugler, another Parisian designer who celebrated the ferocious potential of a group of women dressed in his clothes. A thoroughly modern suit of armour.

Hair: Hirokazu Endo using Bumble & Bumble. Make-up: Mattie White using Lord & Berry. Model: Priscilla Cheseaux at Storm Management. Casting: Troy Casting at D+V Management. Set design: Laura Little. Manicure: Robbie Tomkins at Premier. Photographic assistants: Ellen Egan. Styling assistants: Priyanka Makwana, Sarah Carone, Grace Naef and Antoine Caballero. Set-design assistants: Frank Styles.