Bound 2 Balmainia
Two members of the Kardashian clan just snagged roles as the faces of Balmain in its newest campaign and no, one of them wasn’t the rising star of the fashion world, Kendall Jenner. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have joined the ranks of other soldiers such as Adriana Lima, Joan Smalls and Rosie Huntington Whiteley in the #BalmainArmy for theS/S 2015 Menswear Campaign: The Army of Lovers.
This continues the trend of models turned celebrity-status such as Cara Delevingne, and celebrity turned high fashion, much to the chagrin of fashion purists, whose days of VOGUE covers featuring solely supermodels are long-gone. This is the era of the super-celeb, and there’s no doubting that Ms. Kardashian and Mr. West qualify as such.
It’s been a big year for the Kardashian-Wests. There was the marriage of the century, the epic VOGUE cover complete with baby-model North, and the not soon to be forgotten, #BreakTheInternet phenomenon. Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain stated: “Kim and Kanye are style icons and friends. It is an honour to have them in this Balmain campaign. Together, they represent love, beauty and diversity — they are the new modernity.”
Rousteing understands something about modernity – taking the helm at 25 years old, Rousteing helped revitalize the 70-year old fashion house, not only in terms of the clothing but the brand itself. This including taking the aesthetic away from the rock and roll roots that had re-popularized it and towards the French couture heritage of the brand. It also meant an invigoration of Asian influence considering the importance of the region to the brand. Finally, Rousteing found his niche amongst his peers and friends.
Last season Rousteing tapped on his friend Rihanna’s shoulder to model for the brand. She was featured alongside Naomi Campbell and Iman in W Magazine, to represent the brand. He explained his reasoning as such: “Today people are looking at Rihanna like they were looking at Naomi Campbell or Claudia… nobody wants to be a model, everybody wants to be a singer. That’s the new dream. I think having Rihanna in the campaign is like having Cindy Crawford of Christy Turlington, but for my generation.”
More importantly than his understanding that pop-culture can be harnessed in the fashion industry, is his understanding and response to the homogeneity of the business – an industry not known for its diversity. Rousteing, himself of mixed background, is inclusionary, but not tokenizing. He has stated, “I think today being luxury, being quality, being modern, hasn’t any borders… and I’m mixed race. I want to mix ideas, I want to mix cultures.”
Although some may be exhausted from Kardashian-West overload, it is important not to lose sight of the wider statement made in this campaign. Diversity in the fashion industry is desperately called for and whether or not they are liked, Kimye are part of the move towards a more representative and inclusive industry, which is something to be celebrated.
Maddie Pace, Online Contributor