Beyoncé is coming. Only two months before she sets sail on her upcoming world tour, the “Cuff It” singer unveiled herself on the cover of April 2023’s French Vogue, in a very special new Balmain collection.
Balmain’s creative director, Olivier Rousteing, listened to the Renaissance album last year. Instead of planning the brand’s Spring 2023 collection, he was inspired by the music to sketch designs. He tells Vogue that he couldn’t stop.
“I was sketching and sketching as I listened, and sometimes you can’t control the emotion of your sketch,” he said in the Vogue interview. “And I started to imagine the sketches inside her album, how they would relate to the songs and the lyrics—it wasn’t something I was supposed to be doing but I was just inspired by the music to do it. And that’s how this started.”
Through these sketches, he had the idea to reach out to Beyonce and her stylist Marni Senofonte. He explained that he was interested in not just designing clothes for Bey, but actually co-designing with her. Although surprised, Beyoncé was up for the challenge.
The Growth Of The Balmain Collection
The team took five months to work on bringing the collection to life. They first chopped down Rousteing’s 50 looks to 17. The idea was to have one piece for each song on the album. Once accomplished, they reworked the designs so that they reflected a Beyoncé and Rousteing co-design rather than it being all of the designer’s ideas.
Beyoncé debuted two of the looks already. On the night of the Grammys, the singer posed in the dress dedicated to the song “Virgo’s Groove” from the album. Rousteing says the two explored sensuality with this design. The song, named for Bey’s astrological sign, is six, funky minutes of sex-positive, disco-infused intensity. Rousteing said he knew they had to turn up the heat for a song like that.
The next look she debuted was on the night of the Brit Awards. The singer posed in a look made for the song “Pure/Honey” from the album. Rousteing noted that the look personifies the fun in the song. He said he and Beyonce wanted to infuse the design with the energy of the song.
Rousteing’s pride in the collection comes from more than just being able to co-design with the icon.
“I can’t help but be thrilled by the history-making aspects of this collaboration,” Rousteing gushed to Vogue. “This appears to be the first time that a Black woman has overseen the couture offering from an historic Parisian house. And those designs were created in partnership with the first Black man to ever oversee all the collections at an historic Parisian house. Let’s hope those two firsts help inspire plenty of others.”
Beyoncé’s Pivot In Fashion
The Balmain collaboration comes on the heels of the singer and Adidas parting ways for her Ivy Park line after five years. She first debuted the line in 2016 with Topshop. When the 50/50 venture ended in 2018, she purchased it back and entered a creative partnership with Adidas. The reimagined Ivy Park line released in 2019.
In February, The Wall Street Journal reported on the financial status of the brand. The paper reported the Adidas collaboration produced weak sales according to documents and people familiar with the matter. It was also reported that sales plummeted more than 50 percent. Therefore, Ivy Park lost roughly $20 million in annual compensation for both parties. Above all else, there were creative differences between the two parties.
With the new freedom, Beyoncé plans to work more on Ivy Park independently. “Beyoncé is excitedly looking to reclaim her brand, chart her own path, and maintain creative freedom,” a source told The Hollywood Reporter.