Beyoncé rocks a rhinestone-covered black velvet hat and and matching curve-hugging black bodysuit on the cover of Vogue France in a story celebrating the new couture collection she’s co-created with Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing.
As the accompanying story explains, instead of working to finalize Balmain’s spring 2023 collection last July, Rousteing was obsessing over Bey’s then-new album Renaissance album. “I was sketching and sketching as I listened, and sometimes you can’t control the emotion of your sketch,” he told the magazine about his priorities at the time (which also included preparing for holiday). “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.”
Rousteing did eventually get to that vacation, but he told Vogue he couldn’t stop sketching Renaissance-inspired ideas, so when he returned to Paris in August he reached out to Bey’s stylist, Marni Senofonte, and pitched her team on a couture collection. “My hope was that she would be up for something even beyond the work we have done together before… I wanted us to be co-designers,” he said, noting that to his joy, Beyoncé was totally on board.
That kicked off a five-month collaboration between the designer, Senofonte and Bey that included cutting down the 50 looks Rousteing had amassed to a “playlist” of 17 final ones that eventually became the Balmain x Beyoncé couture collection. “The result is a suite of A-side looks that honor both the history of the house and the musical heritage of the performer,” the magazine explained, noting that two of the pieces have already been seen in the real world at this year’s Grammy Awards and the BRIT Awards.
“I can’t help but be thrilled by the history-making aspects of this collaboration,” Rousteing said of the 17 items inspired by a track, or lyric, from the album. “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…Thank you, Beyoncé for creating the infectious, joyous music that launched this journey—and for partnering with me to ensure that we designed the collection that perfectly reflected the power of those compositions.”
The accompanying story breaks down 12 of the looks — with notes from Rousteing on their inspiration and formatio — from the opening one, an “I’m That Girl” bustier in hammered metal by sculptor Elie Hirsch covered in spikes, with matching spiked bracelets, to a stunning “Plastic Off the Couch” dress that took inspiration from the song’s disco vibe by melding three different concepts.
“The first is an extremely sensual silhouette that relies on impressively curved front-and-back boning to create that impeccably fitted, body-con tulle bustier. The second is a dazzlingly lustrous shine achieved by galvanized, pink-chrome fabric (allowing us to channel the slippery and slick title material),” reads the description. “And the third is an unexpected combo of two iconic Parisian couture signatures: the bow and le smoking. Beyoncé and I were very inspired by the Balmain archive’s many mid-century examples of the founder’s brilliance in creating surprising couture silhouettes via new twists on bow sizing, shape, and placements. Building on that legacy, we decided to flip our glossy pink bow 180 degrees… this transformed what normally would have been a bow’s hanging fabric edges into the most reduced version possible of a classic smoking’s lapels.”
In an Instagram post with Rousteing celebrating the collaboration, Bey wrote, “Thank you @olivier_rousteing and @balmain for bringing RENAISSANCE to life in couture. Designing alongside you was freeing—thank you for allowing me to celebrate the human form, to take artistic risks, to push boundaries and to freely express myself. To the @voguefrance team, thank you for trusting in our vision and sharing it with the world.”
Click here to see the looks and descriptions and check out the cover images in Beyoncé’s Instagram post below.