Balmain opens debut flagship in Los Angeles
The house of Balmain has opened its first boutique on the West Coast of the United States, and in keeping with its creative director Olivier Rousteing’s DNA – a blend of rigorous cutting and high voltage glamour – it’s situated in a classic modern building in Hollywood.
Located at 8421 Melrose Place, the 2,400-square-foot (or 220 square-meters), the one-story boutique will retail men's, women's and kid's clothing collections, along with the recently re-launched Balmain accessories line. Given the setting, the ghost of Heather Locklear will no doubt be pleased.
"I'm a product of the '90s," said Rousteing. "For as long as I can remember, Los Angeles has always been this incredible source of dreams and inspirations - pop culture actually made me fall in love with the city even before I had set foot inside it.”
With a façade done in dark green stucco, the new flagship's interior recalls Villa Balmain, the beautiful Italian vacation home of founder Pierre Balmain. The store’s architects Studio KO blended the villa’s modernist, pared-back Mediterranean décor – with vaulted ceilings, thickly plastered walls and black marble floors. A large rear garden, filled with low green plants, white flowers and black and grey stones, also echoes Balmain’s famed villa, built on the island of Elba in the late 50s by architect Leonardo Ricci.
“That intoxicating West Coast spirit has been reflected in my collections. So, in many ways coming to LA is almost as much a homecoming as the opening of a new flagship,” added Rousteing.
An architect by training, Pierre Balmain founded his own house in 1945 after working for couturier Lucien Lelong, alongside such future greats as Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. Balmain went on the dress stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner. Since his death in 1982 he has been succeeded by some half dozen designers including Oscar de la Renta and Christophe Decarnin. The current creator, Rousteing, took over in 2011 and immediately was hailed for his self-confident style, strict tailoring and attention-seeking designs.
"The success of our year-old New York flagship makes very clear to us that the States is a strong market for Balmain. We also know that the house has a very loyal clientele in California—due in no small part to Olivier's channeling of his love for the spirit of the West Coast into his collections,” said Massimo Piombini, Balmain's CEO.
Last year, Mayhoola Investments, a financial arm of the Qatari royal family, acquired Balmain for 500 million euros, or a stunning four times its annual sales – testifying to the belief in Rousteing’s talent and social media skills. The designer boasts some 4.6 million Instagram followers. According to the store locator section in its official website Balmain currently retails in over 320 doors worldwide including flagships, shop-in-shops, department stores and multi-brand boutiques.
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