When Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing isn't glamorously roving about the fashion world with a diverse army of supermodels and pop stars on his arm — or casting them in his fashion house's magnetizing ad campaigns — the 29-year old black France native is using his rare position as a designer of color to spit truth on the state of diversity in fashion. And we're loving it.
Covering the Power Issue of Out Magazine this month, Rousteing hardly minces his words when he declares that fashion doesn't belong to white people:
Look at perfume campaigns. You never see black girls, and if you do, they use Photoshop so much that they almost look white. It’s just wrong. People post on my Instagram that they are so happy to see black boys and black girls. I’m happy that they see it and don’t think that fashion belongs to white people. Comments on my Instagram are more important that what critics say. It’s deep. I don’t care if you think my shoulders are too big or too small this season. I don’t care if you think my coat isn’t oversized enough.
Having famously cast Rihanna and Kimye in Balmain's Spring 2014 and Spring 2015 ads, respectively, it's clear that Rousteing is sincere. He's used his influence to correct the bleak conditions for models of color working today.
As he told Vogue before unveiling his Fall 2015 collection in Paris last month, "I wanted to look at the seventies in Paris—but for me, it doesn’t mean the flares—it means the diversity, when so many strong women, white, black, Asian were modeling."
Later, he sent a diverse cast of models — including Joan Smalls, Chanel Iman, Adriana Lima, Jourdan Dunn, Binx Walton, and a number of rising black models — stomping down his runway for the Fall 2015 collection.
Obviously, Rousteing is a man of his word.
Read more of the outspoken designer's interview here.
Images via Balmain and Getty.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.