Olivier Rousteing has been playing soccer (or as the French call it - along with the rest of the world - football) since he was 10 years old, so when Nike tapped him to collaborate for its Summer of Sport series, he looked to his childhood pastime. The resulting Football Nouveau collection, out June 2, is a mix of the aesthetic he's cultivated as the celebrated designer of Balmain, all slim-fitting and gilded accents, and Nike's performance fabrics. "In a way, she can be the same [girl] because she's sexy, she's powerful, she's confident," says Rousteing. But though he did keep members of his #BalmainArmy such as Alessandro Ambrosio and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in mind during his sketching, for the most part Rousteing was interested in speaking to a new audience. "She has a different way of a life, she’s a woman that maybe goes to the gym or to play football, she’s kind of boyish and really androgynous," he continues. To wit, instead of models, he tapped French soccer stars Blaise Matuidi and Laure Boulleau to model in his campaign. Though Rousteing doesn't have time to play as much soccer anymore, he's still goes to the gym every morning, and counts on sushi and La Prairie creams to get him through fashion week preparation. Here, the designer talks Nike, the athleisure trend, and his health and beauty regime.
Why were you interested in designing activewear? It was a real challenge for me as a designer, because obviously working for Balmain, it’s such a different brand and a different crowd. And collaborating with Nike was really, really interesting for me to challenge myself style-wise. Nike has the greatest performance fabric, that’s something that I have never used. And at the same time, with Nike we are talking about a different kind of crowd, a crowd that’s bigger and more global and more universal - that's something that I love. Obviously sport is a world that I love but I never really worked for, so it was all this kind of challenge that I loved playing with.
Are there any elements of Balmain incorporated into the line?
It’s interesting, I don’t think it’s Balmain elements but Olivier elements. You can see some kind of elements that remind you of my style and aesthetic, the gold obviously, and maybe the metals and eyelets. All the metallic is something that’s really me, more than Balmain in a way. What I wanted to push is the glamour side, and the richness in the context of a soccer game.
Were you thinking of the Balmain girl during your design process? I obviously love all my girls, I think when I was sketching I had in my mind Alessandro Ambrosio, Jourdan Dunn, Adriana Lima and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. [But] I think I was trying to go a bit away from the Balmain girl. I wanted to think about who would be my Nike girl. And it’s true, in a way she can be kind of the same because she’s sexy, she’s powerful, she’s confident, but she has a different way of a life - she’s a woman that maybe goes to the gym or to play football, she’s kind of boyish and really androgynous. That’s something I played with with Nike because for me it was more interesting to discover a new world.
Has the athleisure trend taken over Paris the way it has in New York?
Definitely, I think you can see in Paris women wearing those pants, being more masculine. But that’s something you can see globally, you can see everywhere. I was in Asia a month ago and I could see it, you can see this movement, the masculine clothes are actually belonging to women. And that’s really interesting. I’m really feminist, so I’m really pleased to see that.
Let's talk about your personal exercise regime. What do you do to stay fit?
When I was a kid I played football - I was playing soccer - so that’s something that’s kind of my childhood, from 10 to 15 years old. So definitely that was my routine when I was a kid. After I started working in fashion I didn’t have time anymore, but I was [still going] twice a week, [and to] my soccer game on Saturday. Today my routine is more going to the gym, having a coach - a personal trainer - every morning. I box, I run a lot, a lot of exercise, that’s something that is part of my life. You know, it’s good for the body but it’s amazing for the brain, because you need to get away from all your frustrations and it’s really good for your mental health.
Do you have a favorite place in Paris or New York for healthy food?
Actually you know what? I love food. I mean I definitely eat a lot of sushis and sashimis, but I’m not going to give up the Italian food and stuff like that. I’m really enjoying food. But I’m making sure that when I enjoy food, I’m going to the gym the day after. If I was in LA, maybe I could give you ten spots, but being in Paris, to tell you the truth, I am just enjoying eating.
That's a very French answer. And what’s your daily grooming routine?
I really love using all my creams. I use a lot of La Mer and La Prairie. Like serum and hydrating skin [cream], lifting skin [cream], these kind of creams are really really important to me in the morning and at night. The caviar cream from La Prairie is perfect. I try to go to bed really early as well. I leave the office sometime around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m., but I make sure I’m sleeping at 11:00 p.m., not later. Because I have my coach at 7:00 a.m. every morning.
Do you ever workout with any members of the #BalmainArmy?
Actually no. We always plan to, but the reality is that when we are together we prefer to enjoy eating than going to the gym!
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