French designer Olivier Rousteing admitted he felt uncomfortable presenting his latest collection for Balmain at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday in view of the war in Ukraine.
“It’s hard to feel right about focusing on runways and clothes, as we listen with a heavy heart to the latest news,” Rousteing wrote to his 7.6 million followers on Instagram.
He used a desert scene in the yellow-and-blue of Ukraine for the image.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ukrainians. We are inspired by their dignity, resilience and devotion to freedom,” he added.
When he unveiled his collection later in Paris, it was striking how many outfits seemed to reflect the wartime atmosphere, even though it was naturally conceived long before the war in Ukraine began.
There were padded corsets, tops and gloves that strongly resembled futuristic body armour, while others were kitted out in golden shields.
That matched a similar focus on protective clothing at Dior’s show a day earlier — where shoulder pads, airbag corsets and items that looked distinctly like bulletproof vests — were part of a focus on “protection”.
It marks a notable shift away from the more glamorous styles that dominated last year’s collections, when the focus had been on hopes of emerging out of the pandemic.
There was still plenty of the traditional glitz at the Balmain event, with celebrities including Serena Williams, Jean Paul Gaultier and Brazilian footballer Neymar in attendance.
Rousteing, 36, has been artistic director at Balmain for more than a decade and is known for his collaborations with Kim Kardashian.
He also starred in a Netflix documentary about the search for his biological parents.
In his Instagram post, Rousteing said he had donated to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, “in order to feel a little less helpless” regarding the Ukraine conflict.
“I would invite anyone else who shares my concerns to consider making their own donation. We are together for freedom,” he wrote.