There are moments in life that change you forever. For Olivier Rousteing, it was the day he discovered his heritage. Earlier this year, the designer—who was adopted as a baby—learned that his mother is Somali and his father is Ethiopian.
The discovery is trailed in an upcoming Netflix documentary Wonder Boy, which is set to release on June 26. But we’ve gotten a sneak peek into his journey via his latest collection for Balmain, where he’s carried a 10-year tenure.
Think of the resort collection as the materialism of his identity in a way. Unable to visit Ethiopia and Somalia due to the pandemic, Rousteing sought inspiration elsewhere. He researched the Horn of Africa, but it was his visit to the ‘Divas, from Oum Kalthoum to Dalida’ exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris that struck him the most.
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The result? What Rousteing has dubbed “perhaps his most personal offering to date.” His heritage is visible in every aspect of the collection, giving reference to his biological parent’s African roots, as well as the stars of the Arab world, which is particularly visible through the jewelry.
“I always wondered where I was coming from, so it’s a gift to know which cultures you have in your blood,” Rousteing told Vogue.
“But even if you don’t know, you take pride in the cultures that might be in your blood. Because France is a melting pot of so many cultures, and definitely this collection is about that melting pot, as well as the source of my blood, which is the Horn of Africa, as well as being a citizen of the world,” he continued.