Anticipation for #HMBalmainNation has been building ever since Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner debuted head-to-toe looks from the collaboration alongside designer Olivier Rousteing at the Billboard Music Awards in May. Then just last week, 99 still life images of the collection leaked online before Instagram shut down the account from which they originated.
Just hours before the much-anticipated runway show debut of Balmain’s collection for H&M, designer Olivier Rousteing sat down for two consecutive press conferences in downtown New York City on Tuesday with Vogue Runway’s Nicole Phelps and H&M’s Head of Design, Ann-Sofie Johansson. Rousteing discussed his favorite pieces, how he hopes to satisfy the brand’s fans and, of course, what kinds of compromises the luxury house had to reach with the fast fashion retailer in order to translate the couture pieces into accessible prices.
“I was like more, more, more, and you were like, ‘Yes, it’s fine more but just a little bit less,'” said Rousteing, referring to Johansson and laughing. “We managed to make it happen, to find our compromise. I think Ann-Sofie wanted longer dresses and I wanted shorter. I wanted really, really, high heels and she went, ‘Let’s do 2 [centimeters] less, we’ll be fine.'” Johansson agreed, noting that the dress lengths in the collection are still quite short.
Despite designing dresses that cost over $16,000 as his day job, Rousteing says he understands the importance of the collaboration’s affordability on a personal level. “[Ten years ago] I would watch the fashion shows of the big brands and I wished I could afford this jacket, I wished I could be a part of this world and this universe,” he said. “Many of my followers are like, ‘I wish I could have that, I wish I could have that,’ so I tried to make sure that the aesthetic of what we pulled out was close to what they want.”
Rousteing likened the collection to fireworks — it’s going to last only “two or three minutes,” thanks to the industry’s lightening-fast pace and how quickly the pieces are likely to sell out, but it will be an unforgettable experience that he said will “refresh” the brand with youthful, cool excitement. “Fireworks in the middle of my career, fireworks in the middle of Balmain, fireworks in the middle of H&M,” he said.
The look book only confirms what the leaked images revealed much to the Internet’s approval: Balmain for H&M looks just like real Balmain, at least in pictures. Women’s silhouettes are expectedly body-hugging and shoulders are pronounced. Pants are super voluminous or very tight. There’s more velvet, baroque-style jacquard, dense beading, cord and metallic thread detailing than one would expect for the price point. Accessories include waist-cinching belts, thigh-high boots, embellished clutches, chandelier earrings and even headphones (not pictured below). The outerwear is the best part of the men’s collection, featuring military-inspired double-breasted coats and zipper-covered leather jackets festooned with gold patches, trim or buttons. It’s all gilded and gaudy and over-the-top — just like Balmain. And now that H&M has ventured into beauty, the collaboration also includes a limited edition fragrance.
You’ll be able to shop the collection starting on Nov. 5 in 250 select H&M stores worldwide and online. The fragrance, however, won’t launch until Dec. 5. After plenty of teases — from spotting pieces on the red carpet to Instagram photos and campaign images starring Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Jourdan Dunn — the images for the collection have finally been released, and everything looks so good. Waiting to shop just got a whole lot harder!