Olivier Rousteing, child of the ’90s, was looking back at Paris in the ’70s this season. The era has a tight hold on designers at the moment. It might have something to do with the dueling YSL biopics released last year: The one that starred Gaspard Ulliel as a particularly dissipated Saint Laurent was pretty intoxicating. Rousteing mentioned YSL’s muse, Loulou de la Falaise, backstage, and he plucked prints from the Balmain archives from the period. The way he sees it, it was a particularly exotic time in Paris, full of exuberantly hued clothes. And it got his motor running.

On the runway this afternoon, violet, yellow, green, and black were color-blocked on jersey knit separates; orange and fuchsia came together on a wraparound blazer and enormous pleated palazzo pants; and a red and blue beaded fringe skirt was topped by an electric yellow belt. Like we said, exuberant! Rousteing applied the same more-is-more attitude to his silhouettes, which is where he ran into a serious snag. With good old Yves, there was an unmistakable lightness to the clothes. Here, the high-waisted flares, especially the plissé versions topped with extra-wide belts, tended to drown the supermodel bodies beneath them. Throw a duster coat on over the whole shebang and you’d never know there was a Victoria’s Secret Angel lurking underneath all the layers.

For the most part, Rousteing has done away with the embroidery that was the house signature when he arrived, but there hasn’t been the corresponding lightening up of the clothes that you’d expect. There were exceptions to that rule: a body-con dress in stretchy lace, a tailored velvet dress with a spill of ruffles below the waist, a minidress in color-blocked beaded fringe. Despite their finery, they had a slip-on-and-go simplicity that will make them popular on the party circuit. It’s no surprise that, at the dinner Rousteing threw at Lapérouse late this evening, Balmain frocks outnumbered Balmain flares 10-to-1.

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