Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing Revisits the Land of the Amazons

By Kati Vereshaka
Kati Vereshaka
Kati Vereshaka
October 2, 2015 Updated: October 4, 2015

It wasn’t until 1945 when Tarzan, played by Johnny Weissmuller at the time, penetrated the “forbidden paradise ruled by beautiful women” in “Tarzan and the Amazons” that we actually saw the warrior woman in action.

Sure, she had appeared before as various deities and mythical characters depicted on everything from ancient pottery, in sculpture and murals, yet motion pictures gave her mobility for the first time. It was as if the goddess suddenly moved and talked, and, let’s not forget, wore some va-va-voom gear.

I remember seeing the movie in the 1970’s and instantly knowing that there was an Amazon in me. The power, the mystery, the shiny costumes. Jane only wore jungle shabby-chic but the Amazons wore leather and gold and had cinched waists, not to mention weapons, most deadly of all being their ruthless stares that would make any man shake in his loin-cloth.

This symbolism is something that fashion designers keep returning to periodically, though not always in such a literal way as Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing did his spring-summer 2016 collection.

Models Joan Smalls, Kendall Jenner and Gigi and sister Bella Hadid had just the perfect curves and stares to carry off the look.

Suede jackets came in rather autumnal, earthy tones. And then, the malachite green woven suede dress with pouch pockets and a deep ‘v’ neck appeared—a nod to the khaki safari dress shown by Yves Saint Laurent, in his more experimental Rive Gauche line of 1968. The safari look in women’s ready-to-wear was born and it clearly endures to this day.

There were plenty of ruffles too. A dress in ochre chiffon with cascading ruffles and a dark tan belt exuded softness, as well as that don’t-mess-with-me air, given the gigantic metal neck … gear.

No less dramatic were Rousteing’s creations using crochet and knotting techniques. They were the kind of pieces that may well be highlighted in Olivier Rousteing retrospective exhibitions decades from now.