Balmain's Olivier Rousteing's Quest to Discover His Race Took Him To The Top Of Fashion

“He toss my salad like his name Romaine/And when we done, I make him buy me Balmain” Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Balmain x H&M
Models in the new
Balmain x H&M Collection

Dunno if Meek is going to be tossing any salad, but he might be tossing some cash Balmain’s way today. Fashionable rappers and their girlfriends are rejoicing because it is a huge day in the world of fashion.
After months of anticipation, Balmain is releasing their new Balmain x H&M collection. The French company’s new collection is causing long lines at stores around the globe.
Online, H&M’s website is already sold out of practically every piece in the collection, just hours after going on sale.
It is all thanks to the designs of Olivier Rousteing, the 30-year-old Creative Director for Balmain.
Rousteing, who is the most followed French fashion designer on Instagram, debuted his new collaboration with H&M during a critically acclaimed runway show in New York last month.
“I want to talk to my generation: this is my main aim as a designer,” Rousteing said of Balmain’s latest collection. “H&M allows me the unique possibility of bringing everyone into the world of Balmain get a piece of the dream and create a global #HMBalmaination: a movement of togetherness, fueled on a hashtag. The collaboration felt extremely natural to me: H&M is a brand that everybody connects to. It calls for unity, and I am all for it.”
It is not just a big deal for both brands; it is also a milestone for Balmain’s young Creative Director, who was adopted by white parents at the age of one. Rousteing, who is black, found out around the age of 10 after classmates teased him for looking different from his parents.
“From about aged 10 through to high school, people would say, ‘Oh, you’re a bastard, your parents are white and you’re black,’ or ‘Your mum slept with a black man,’ or ‘Your dad was with a black woman.’ It was really complicated,” Olivier Rousteing told Vogue.
Rousteing attempted to find his biological mother but was stymied by French secrecy laws. The search for his identity led him to the world of fashion.


With my clothes, I become a person,” Rousting said. “When you don’t know where you come from, you need to show people you have your own way to identify yourself.”
Rousteing’s parents wanted him to be a lawyer, but he had other plans and dropped out of school at the age of 17 to pursue his dreams of being a designer in the fashion business.
He ultimately settled in Milan, Italy and took an internship with fashion label Roberto Cavalli.
During this period, Rousteing landed his job as an assistant at Cavalli, where he stayed for five years and made his way up the corporate ladder.
In 2009, Rousteing went to work for Balmain as the head of the French fashion company’s womenswear decision.
It wasn’t long before he was named Creative Director of Balmain, at the tender age of 25.
Almost seven years later, Rousteing has helped shape the brand identity for Balmain, which is popular with rappers like Kanye West, Meek Mill, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj, who rocked a Balmain dress during her racy “SNL” appearance a few weeks ago.
Rousteing is also leading the company outside of France and into the United States. Later this year, Balmain plans to open stores in Los Angeles, New York, Dubai and Macau.
It’s not just the corporate side of things either. Rousteing also helped update Balmain’s image last year, with campaigns featuring Kanye and Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna.
“I think I was growing up with so many doubts. But my doubts became my strengths, and I’m deciding now to actually enjoy the present, and have an eye on the future more than the past,” Rousteing told Vogue.