"I'm not really a party boy, even if people think so," Olivier Rousteing said on Friday at Saks Fifth Avenue's New York flagship—never mind the fact that a few hours later, he was hosting a party to celebrate the launch of Balmain's first ready-to-wear shop at a luxury retailer in New York. Before dancing the night away at L'Avenue with everyone from Justine Skye to Princess Olympia of Greece to Noah Schapp from Stranger Things, the house's creative director sat down with W to talk New York, Naomi Campbell, Kylie Jenner, and this "small brand" called Balmain.
Do you remember the first time that you ever went to Saks?
Of course. When I was young, I was obsessed with Ralph Lauren, so I came to get a sweatshirt or something like that. I’ve always loved Saks. More than being an incredible store, I think it's also an incredible institution. In France, it's what we call patrimoine. It belongs to New York, and to the beauty and elegance of New York.
Do you still wear Ralph Lauren?
I always have my Ralph Lauren. For me, it’s that kind of brand always stays elegant and chic.
What other brands have you been into lately?
I love this brand called Balmain.
How do you spell that?
Yeah, you know, it’s a small brand, really cute. [Laughs.] No, I usually wear my own clothes and obviously what I sketch is usually what I love to wear. I’m obsessed with suits and tailoring. I love my double-breasted jacket today, and my oversized shirt. But what I love the most is to mix with other brands as well. I’m wearing a lot of Rick Owens—I love the Rick Owens t-shirts and pants. I used to have some Saint Laurent from Hedi [Slimane]. I actually like Hermès as well. And Chanel. Whenever I see menswear from Chanel, I’m like, how can I get this? That’s it.
What was the highlight of this past fashion week?
Well right before fashion week, I was in Calabasas with Kylie [Jenner] shooting the campaign for our new makeup collab, which we were both so proud of. Then of course I went to Paris to do my fashion show. I think my greatest memory from that was Kris being there next to me, because she’s always supportive.
Did Kylie get to do your makeup for the campaign?
Actually, I had already had my touchup—I was going to the Emmys an hour after.
How did she break the news that she wouldn't be joining you in Paris?
We were texting on and on and on and on. Kris was with me and we were talking to her and she was saying she didn't feel good. But you know, there’s no need for any apology. When you feel sick, you feel sick. And I was wishing for her to feel better and she did, she went to the hospital. Fashion cannot control everything, you know what I mean? But of course she was really sad.
Did she share any beauty tips?
She’s really good at color. Obviously I cannot wear those colors on me, but we spent like days with our arms putting some colors, some eyeshadows. It was just amazing to be in her office and working together on that. But tips? No. I’m pretty good with my own tips. I have a lot of creams. I make sure that I sleep well at night.
What's your nightly beauty routine?
Have you seen this movie Death Becomes Her? [Outstretches his arms and raises his face.] This is me when I go to sleep. I don’t move until the sun comes up. I put a lot of cucumber on my face as well. I’m really trying to fight against age… in my own way.
Do you have a routine for travel, too?
Oh yeah. I usually moisturize my face. I mean, seven hours isn’t enough. No, I'm kidding, but yesterday morning, when we left Paris, I was with Naomi in the flat, and she was like, "Babe, keep moisturizing your face." I'm like, I'm gonna listen to all your tips now, because that face, that skin... I mean, she's amazing. She's incredible. So the whole flight, I was just just moisturizing my face.
Besides Saks, where else do you tend to go when you're in New York?
You know what? Usually, I don’t go out much—I stay in my hotel or go to my friends' house to watch movies, or maybe go see an exhibition. I’m not really a party boy, even if people think so. I mean, I don’t really know the place to go out. Sometimes we go to little bars or cafés, but they're places I don’t even know the name of. I'm a pretty boring person, you know? I love cuddling with my friends, with a blanket, and just watching movies. Sometimes horror movies, because we all love horror movies, but not when we're alone. When we are alone, we cannot. So we usually do that. When my friends try to put me on dates with people, like, "Oh, I know this guy," I'm like, "I'm not going to go out for him. I'm going to stay in in my pajamas."
Your last two collections were about reinventing the "Balmain woman." What are you thinking now, going forward?
I’m known for shoulder pads and glamour and flamboyance, but I think, you know, what I’m really trying to show now is Balmain is timeless. Because I feel like everybody’s trying so hard to be on-trend, and trends are over in like two months now, whereas before it was like three years. What I really hope is what I’m creating at Balmain is something that you know is unique and iconic, and that you will always keep and be proud of—not something that you're like, "Oh, I got that and I don’t care anymore." This is something really important for me. I create for a brand that already has a history, and I want to make sure the history can continue and not just being a trendy brand. That’s what my obsession is right now.
What piece are you most proud of in this past collection?
Jackets. Jackets forever. And for my last collection, it's more about the image of me going out with all my girls and they are all in colorful colors and plissés. I feel like this is a picture that maybe in 50 years, people see in a fashion book and say, 'That was the Balmain history.'
Is there anyone who embodies the woman you’re thinking of right now?
If she were still alive, I would love to dress Marilyn Monroe. I think she could wear all Balmain, from a suit to a plissé dress to a body con with shoulder pads. I can imagine her in all my clothes. I’ve been pretty lucky to dress so many women who I love and am obsessed with. I dressed Michelle Obama once, but I would love to dress her more. I really do love this woman. And I wish she would wear more Balmain.
How do you feel about dressing politicians in general?
I love it. I dressed my first lady [Brigitte Macron], and I’m obsessed with how well she's wearing Balmain. I love dressing politicians—at least who I agree with.