Where Olivier Rousteing goes, the #BalmainArmy follows.
That was evident Tuesday night inside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the 31-year-old Balmain creative director met warm applause from fashion insiders and plenty of loyal followers (he has 4 million on Instagram) for Atelier with Alina Cho, a seasonal series hosted inside the art institute.
As Cho pressed him with questions about growing up in Bordeaux, France, as the adopted son of a white family, Rousteing delivered his boyish charm and, perhaps most importantly, made it clear that for him, embracing the world’s diversity is his top priority, both at work and in his personal life. “I don’t want to believe in that kind of world. That’s not my world. That’s not the world I believe in,” he told the audience in reference to race relations and those who don’t accept people from all backgrounds.
Rousteing additionally reminisced on his successes at such a young age—he joined Balmain in his current role at just 25-years-old—and said Balmain’s sold-out collaboration with H&M was nothing but “a dream come true.” He expressed a greater interest into furthering the Parisian brand's accessories game, and surprisingly revealed the first collection he ever put together for the house was the “least stressful.”
Cho also managed to get the of-the-time designer to open up about his massive social media following. “It’s who I am. I’m not afraid. I’m honest,” he said when asked about the pressures of sharing imagery from his life. There’s one thing he surely doesn’t make available on Instagram: “I don’t share when I’m sad.”
And while Rousteing is himself a celebrity, he opened up about the A-listers he works with and admires. He cited Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford (his “crush”) as motivators, and hilariously named Jaden Smith (“the son of Jada and Will Smith”) as the actor he’d chose to portray him in a biographical flick.
So how does one become closer to the #BalmainArmy? “I will never dress someone I don’t believe in,” he said, adding that those he dresses for the red carpet are those he truly shares a relationship with. A top choice? Kim Kardashian West.
“I think I just had like one of the biggest [crushes] of my life,” he said of meeting Kardashian West through Kanye West years ago at the Met Ball. “She was really shy. I was really shy … I fell in love with her straightaway and from that we built our friendship,” he said, calling her one of the women that inspires him the most.
VIDEO: Kim Kardashian West's Best Beauty Moments
Talk about love at first sight.