Olivier Rousteing, Designer, Balmain


“I’m from the south of France, in Bordeaux—both my parents are French. I have family there and also in Paris, so I always traveled back and forth a lot. After finishing school, I went to Italy for almost six years and worked for Roberto Cavalli, and then I decided to come back to Paris for Balmain. Now, it’s been three, three-and-a-half years at Balmain. I’m twenty-six.

Balmain womenswear and menswear is the same for me: I like sexiness. That’s why I’m in fashion—because I love the body of a woman or of a man. It’s always playing with a part of the body but still being modern and keeping the sexiness, and showing a bit of your body. You can always have oversized jackets but you have to wear it over maybe a skinny pant; or, if you have a skinny jacket, it’s always nice to have an oversized pant. But I actually think the face is the sexiest part of a woman’s body, because I think the ‘sexy’ is more in the emotion…when you see the [Balmain] show, they have their hair really simple, the makeup really simple, and they can wear what they want. They can wear a white t-shirt or the dress, but if there is emotion in the eyes and promise, and the flow in the hair, for me it’s really important. I think we have the most beautiful girls in the world, in our shows, and I would never try to hide their beauty. I think they have beautiful hair, they have beautiful eyes, the lips—I like the individuality completely. I’m very attracted to that look of no makeup. The clothes that I’m doing are really really strong in some ways, they are really rich and overworked, so if the clothes are strong, I just want a more simple and natural face. But, I think, what is important for me is that they can wear these clothes as they wear their pajamas. They don’t go to sleep in their makeup—that’s the point. When they walk on the catwalk, or when they try things on in the fitting, I just say, ‘Have the attitude that you’re wearing pajama pants, or switch to jogging, or if you’re in a dress, try to make it yours.’ Then you have your simple hair and makeup, everything you are now, and you have your garment or your super boy sweatshirt and boy pants…I think that looks super cool.

For guys, I prefer more natural if possible. I like hot boys, but it’s just more about the emotion you give, you know? You can be skinny or you can be super muscle, it’s just what your face is showing to the world. So, I think it’s not only about the body, it’s more about the attitude. You can have an amazing leather perfecto jacket with a shirt and it can go super well with a muscle boy that came from Cuba, but it can be completely wrong for a skinny guy from Russia. It’s all about the attitude and all about how you want to act, you know, in the street. In Paris, there are a lot of androgynous and super skinny boys, and I was super skinny when I was young too but not anymore. I did a lot of football; I was a soccer player…I keep the legs. [Laughs] Now, I’m trying to build a bit more of a chest, but it’s not working for me—building muscle. I’m sad about that. I’m trying every morning to go to the gym. Every time, after holidays, like in Miami, I say, ‘They’re all beautiful here. I have to come back to Paris and work out.’ And I do for one week and then I can't anymore. I put on the music that I wanted on my iPod, I look at the clips on the TV screens and everything, to run…but it’s just impossible. Sometimes I take my bike, or my rollerblades, from the gym to the office, but only in summer. I try to eat really well; that’s something, for me, that’s important. Even when I’m in the office and it’s kind of rushed, we try to eat well.

For my beauty routine, it’s all about the cream. [Laughs] I always had the same moisturizer, Lichtena—it’s something that I bought in Italy. I was more dark when I was young, but when I grew up more, I’m a bit more fair. I think it’s the weather in Paris…my skin is maybe used to sun in the South. I don’t know. It’s weird. I’m using a lot of Skeen; it’s a men’s line. I was in my gym at one point, and there was a guy who was selling this, and now I can’t use anything else. I love it. From this line, I use a lot of things—there is a thing that is like a powder for under the eyes that is good for after a big party. I like the soap too, for the body. I should use more things for the lips. I have one Labello, strawberry. I use Nivea deodorant—it stays for twenty-four hours, I swear. I shave every two or three days, but I like it best when it’s clean. On other men, I like a little bit of a beard, but on me, no, because it’s not everywhere…I don’t have the perfect beard when it grows. It’s not perfect like Brad Pitt or those kinds of guys, like Leonardo DiCaprio, when you see them and you’re like, ‘They’re hot!’ He’s so hot. I remember him in Titanic. And Romeo + Juliet. I watched it last night, you know. I was in the office playing music and at one point, we were like, ‘Okay. ‘90s.’ We were listening to Britney Spears, ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time,’ and we thought, ‘When was ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’?’ In 1998. So, I was just realizing, it was fourteen years ago. At one point, I was just like, ‘Okay. When was Titanic?’ It was around the same time. I realized we saw that when we were super young—my team is really young—so we watched some clips from the movie. We watched Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the car scene. It was love! I was crying like a baby when I first watched that. And then after, we went to Romeo + Juliet—we listened to the music from the soundtrack. At one point, you’re just like, ‘Fuck. I’m really old now.’”

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  • http://www.luxessed.com/ Miss K

    I like his opinion on emotions and attitude. And the part about going to the gym. He's human!

  • Miss Y

    Very interesting!

    I can really find myself in his perspective about being yourself with the clothes.

    Great article!

  • http://www.365fashionandlifestyle.com/ Mioara Roncea

    So glad to see here this super talented man.

  • http://twitter.com/Mirror_Reality Phil

    Glad to see he's rational about how someone can look 'hot/great'.
    It's mostly about the way you carry yourself.


  • Morganetpr

    This article just confirms how perfect he really is. I love that he is so young as well, it adds a sort of relatability to him and his work.

  • lilla

    Such an amazing carreer for a 26 year old and basically it'd amazing for anybody :) Really inspiring.


  • Lalala83

    Fuck WE are old! Good interview for a guy. I like hearing about their stories. It's usually less beauty than your women's pieces, but still interesting.

  • Feiy

    Olivier is so good at what he does, and he's super adorable too! love this.

  • http://www.deeandduke.com/ Daphne | Dee & Duke

    Impressive career indeed!

  • Jess

    i think he's so talented and good-looking. and i love getting to know a bit more of what men think about beauty. it's awesome. gotta love into the gloss!

  • Maria

    Romeo+Juliet!! Hah we REALLY are old!

  • Anonymous

    I seem to find myself wildly in love with fly young fashion designers named Olivier. Go figure.

    I have one nitpicky thing: The "amazing leather perfecto jacket" to which Monsieur refers is almost certainly the Schott Perfecto, which is indeed the single most amazing leather jacket on earth (I have one, and it's a treasure), and should therefore be capitalized. :)

  • Amanda

    I really enjoyed this piece. He's down to earth.

    Fourteen years ago seems like yesterday. Damn.


    Could you please do a Top Shelf for Danielle and Jodie Snyder (separately)? They are the best!

  • Stephanie Liu

    His interview is inspiring and amazing! His attitude towards beauty is so strong and effective, I completely am in line with him. Love his story about the 90s and Leo! lol

    xo Stephanie

  • http://twitter.com/lechicworld Le chic world

    So awesome seeing someone at my age doing such great things! love it! living the dream


  • http://pinklemonincrystal.blogspot.com/ Michelle Lee
  • Belle Monde

    I like the way.
    Belle Monde

  • http://fashionclub.com/fashion/beautybuzz/newyork-2011/ Tisha Green

    This is a great interview piece! I love how down-to-earth he is and he's very up front about his thoughts and feelings. Great job!

  • http://www.fashion-vo.com/ Fashion-vo

    He bagin work at 17.when i was 17 i was studying at school


    I am so astonished at how successful this young 26 yr old is!!! He's an anomaly of his kind. To go from Cavalli then to Balmain is a huge feat! Obviously, he's REALLY REALLY talented and stood out from all his other peers. I want to know more about his years in school and the transition from that to Cavalli and then to Balmain, more in depth, more into the mind of Olivier. I want to know WHO Olivier is. I still haven't gotten that. He's like this untapped phenomenon that I want to know more of. So excited about his collabo w/H&M. Love his work!