Heritage fashion label Balmain is reaching into its history to birth a new era of beauty for the brand.
Balmain’s Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has partnered with Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. on a long-term licensing agreement for Balmain Beauty that will include fragrance, skin care and makeup.
“I’m obsessed with beauty. It’s almost like an extension of myself,” Rousteing told WWD.
Pierre Balmain founded the luxury fashion house in 1945 and subsequently released fragrances that reflected the brand’s keen articulation of femininity in its many forms.
“When I look at the archives of Pierre Balmain, it’s incredible the diversity of fragrances that he created,” explained Rousteing to the publication. “Each totally different from the other, but still a reflection of the house.”
And while Rousteing admits a nostalgic resonance with the brand’s past stable of beauty products (his grandmother religiously wore the 1979 scent Ivoire de Balmain), this partnership seeks to look to the future.
Everything we know so far about Balmain Beauty
“We’re going to try to express what is the DNA of Balmain in beauty…but with the modernity that speaks to my generation and future generations,” said Rousteing.
“We shared a common interest between staying true to our heritage [and] at the same time seeing into the future,” Estée Lauder executive Guillaume Jesel went on to say. Rather than being anchored by Balmain’s heritage, this collaboration endeavours to “connect the past with the present, and also the future.”
Balmain Beauty joins the likes of Estée Lauder’s high luxury brand Tom Ford Beauty, however, “[Balmain] does add a different tonality in the sense that this is a French brand,” according to Jesel.
“We look at luxury as a segment that has been growing ahead of the market and that has very strong growth perspectives around the world,” he continued. “Luxury is a dimension that we were seeking to augment, and that is a strategic step that is really important.”
As far as Rousteing is concerned, the Balmain Beauty brand must embody three core values: diversity, the brand’s haute couture heritage and sustainability.
“Talking to every skin tone of the world is something really important for me,” Rousteing explained. His brief for Jesel and Estée Lauder? “I want to represent all the beauties of the world — no exceptions.”
“We are very much aligned in our relationship — that we want to look into the future of luxury, and with Balmain Beauty, we are committed to continue advocating for those values,” said Jesel.
This collaboration is a welcome refresh and reset for Balmain after their attempt to partner with Interparfums SA on Balmain Beauty back in 2012. The then 12 year licensing contract was prematurely terminated in 2017. As for the Balmain Hair Couture brand? The hair side of the business will be run as a separate entity, with Estée Lauder focusing on Balmain Beauty as a fragrance house, and innovator in makeup and skin care.
“I’m really thinking of makeup as protection and not just to be beautiful,” Rousteing said. Two years ago the fireplace in Rousteing’s home exploded, an accident that left him with burn scars on his face and torso.
He relied heavily on pharmaceutical products to aid in healing his skin, and makeup to cover the scarring. That experience has led him to believe that makeup “should help make your skin better.”
"My accident, being burnt, defined me a new world of beauty," he said via Instagram. "This is the world I want to give for the new generation."
While Balmain Beauty is just being born, some of our beauty go-to’s are being laid to rest. Go-To’s Exceptionoil is being discontinued.
Main image credit: @olivier_rousteing
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.