Paris: Balmain’s new designer Olivier Rousteing has truly hit his stride with F/W 12, committing to a refined and masculine vision of the luxury brand while remaining true to its recent history.  Menswear was a significant influence this season, but even pared-down basics were presented with a maximum of rich texture and embellishment, finding boxy patch pocket camp shirts rendered in smooth leather, or brushed buckskin and flare trousers in burnout velvet. Utility appeared throughout via strong shoulders and military touches, but meticulous beading and floral needlepoint inspired by Fabergé eggs was an ever-present foil, elevating even the most casual silhouettes and creating baroque patterns for matched set suiting. With all of the squared-off volume on top, skirts and pants were skinny, and Rousteing carried over some of the refreshing mid-calf hemlines from his Pre-Fall collection, while also introducing several floor-length styles slit confidently to the thigh. Tough but no longer tart, Balmain’s high-end swagger has been fully resurrected.—Nina Stotler

Silhouette: Fitted / Slim / Boxy / Body-conscious

Color: White / Black / Teal / Mint / Navy / Cream / Gold / Pastel pink / Emerald

Key Items: Embroidered crew neck tops / Slim trousers / Slim calf-length skirts / Skinny turtlenecks / Boxy double-breasted blazers / Embellished long-sleeve mini-dresses / Velvet flare trousers / Cropped jackets / Knit crewnecks / Beaded vests / Military overcoats / Quilted motorcycle jackets

Materials: Leather / Fur / Cashmere / Velvet / Silk / Cotton / Brocade / Suede / Burnout velvet / Satin / Jersey

Print + Pattern: Florals / Grids / Baroque repeats

Details + Trim: Sequins / Floral embroidery / Brass buttons / Patch pockets / Pearl embroidery / Quilting / Epaulettes / Slits / Zippers / Needlepoint embroidery / Crystal embroidery

Accessories + Footwear: Ankle boots / Embellished belts / Lace-up ankle boots


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