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Balmain and Netflix present 'The Harder They Fall'

This year marks Olivier Rousteing’s 10th anniversary at Balmain. To celebrate? On top of an iconic concert-meets-runway-show presented at Paris Fashion Week, the French designer has created a capsule inspired by Netflix’s new Western ‘The Harder They Fall’, produced by Jay-Z. Alongside costume designer Antoinette Messam, Rousteing pays homage to the cultural significance of the movie, and shares the inspiration behind the pieces — available to shop on FARFETCH as a limited-edition capsule — shot here with unique designs from the Balmain archives.

x Netflix slogan-print cotton scarf



x Netflix slogan-print cotton scarf



On American Westerns

‘Everyone, everywhere, all across the world grew up watching American Westerns,’ says Olivier Rousteing. ‘I have such great memories of watching them with my parents when I was just a kid growing up in Bordeaux. [But] too many of those legendary films, with their all-white casting for lead actors, ignored the incredible true history of the 19th-century West — when so many newly freed slaves headed West in hope of a better life. Historians have pointed out that one-third of American cowboys were African-Americans. To finally have a film that reflects that fact is long overdue.’ ‘What I think is important for audiences to know is that Black cowboys existed in the Victorian West,’ agrees Antoinette Messam. ‘Westerns prior to this had one or two Black actors in them and they were rarely the lead.’


On the importance of representation

‘Representation matters,’ says Rousteing. ‘Knowing that you are seen grants you power. It means a lot to be able to see yourself reflected in stories that reflect the true, beautiful diversity of our world.’ ‘Watching this film, young people will be able to see themselves as cowboys, saloon owners, merchants and families that owned their own land,’ adds Messam. ‘This is not a Western about Black people — it’s a Western that just happens to have Black people in it.’


On collaboration

‘One of my favorite things about working on collaborations — whether for a one-of-a-kind product, an event or a movie like this one — is that I get the chance to meet some of the world’s leading experts,’ says Rousteing. ‘Collaborations push me out of my comfort zone and force me to learn new things from the best in other fields. I loved having the chance to see what Antoinette does and understanding a little bit more why what she does is so highly valued by everyone in the industry.’


On what inspired the costumes

‘My references came from everywhere,’ says Messam. ‘Victorian costumes, [fashion designers] Ozwald Boateng, John Varvatos and Ralph Lauren Collection, fashion magazine layouts, fabric swatches, pictures taken from costume rental houses. Westerns are exciting! When you think back to the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns of the 70s, everything about them was so cool. Clint Eastwood [and] the understated silhouettes of ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’ inspired me for lead character Nat Love [played by Jonathan Majors]. It was the first costume I designed and the one I built the surrounding characters around. Because he was in it for the majority of the film, it needed to look like a second skin on him.’


On the limited-edition capsule

‘Designing a collection for Paris Fashion Week and designing a limited-edition capsule are both built on the same fashion and design fundamentals,’ says Rousteing. ‘Both are all about creating one cohesive and distinctive whole, since I need to create something that is both clearly singular while continuing within the distinct Balmain trajectory. And then, once I’m clear about the direction, all I need to do is set my playlist on an endless loop, turn the volume up to the max and start sketching.’


On the future of fashion

‘I’ve always fought for a more inclusive vision,’ says Rousteing. ‘I strongly believe that [the industry] needs to continue to push the doors open wider, allowing more and more lovers of fashion past the velvet ropes. That’s why I’ve pushed for runways that are open to thousands of people — for example, our recent Balmain Festival, a concert-meets-runway presentation during Paris Fashion Week, which was an amazing success. I believe that a creative director has to help people dream. Beyond creating clothes, a creative director has to weave new stories and inspire people. And I know that relying on entertainment — whether it’s a concert, a new game, a movie or a series — is one of the best ways to do that.’

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