If you haven’t witnessed Olivier Rousteing lip-syncing “Am I sexual?” I highly recommend it. After the metaphorical curtain had closed on his Balmain x H&M extravaganza, Rousteing celebrated in true millennial fashion — front row at a mini Backstreet Boys concert with his besties Gigi Hadid and the Jenners. And it looked like he knew all the words.
The newly 30-year-old (he made reporters sing “Happy Birthday” to him at a press conference earlier in the day) Rousteing has made a reputation for his youth and social-media savvy. But what last night underscored is how retro his entire vision is — his dream cast of glamazon models (Hadid and Jenner, but also Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, and Jourdan Dunn) were styled with big side-swept hair and dramatic makeup, the multilevel runway recalled the supermodel era, and the clothes reflected his runway impulse toward big shoulders, pearl embellishment, and all things Dynasty. There were Thriller jackets, blazers worn over bandeaus, well-over-the-thigh boots, hemlines that demanded a word more extreme than mini (at the press conference, Rousteing and Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s head of design, joked that hemlines and heel heights were the only things they bickered over in the design process. It looked like Rousteing won). On the line for the pre-shopping event, the green dress worn by Smalls seemed to be the front-runner. And Rousteing said that even those on the runway were chomping at the bit to get the clothes: It’s a good feeling, he said, “when you see 40 models saying, ‘I want that.’”
But the retro engine didn’t stop with the clothes. On the runway, teams of voguers engaged in Paris Is Burning–style dance-offs, guests ate hors d’oeuvre out of black Happy Meal–style boxes, and high-ranking fashion editors were reduced to giggly tweens in the presence of BSB. These kinds of high-low sprees are nothing new, when it comes to fashion events — only a month ago, Alexander Wang celebrated a decade in business by showing four-figure clothes, followed by Hooters wings, pole dancers, and a Ludacris set. But Rousteing’s mise en scene had a more wistful flavor, of someone who is yearning for a time he barely lived through. He’s made the past his palette, but think of what he could do if he embraced the present.