EXCLUSIVE: Olivier Rousteing Explores The Unveiling Of The Balmain x Chivas XV Collection
5 Oct 2021
Ever wondered how an exquisite blend of Parisian couture and a 15 year old blended Scotch would look like?
Two iconic houses, Chivas and Balmain, have teamed up to unveil a limited-edition Balmain x Chivas XV collection; infusing both worlds into one seamless vision. The two limited edition bottles radiate a luxurious feel that each differ in style; developed by Chivas in partnership with Balmain’s Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing, this prestigious collection is enriched with heritage, innovation and a fearless edge that instantly captures your eye.
Spread across two drops, the first of which is an incredibly limited gold bottle that’s coated in a breath-taking metallic armour and chains, that aims to pay homage to Balmain’s reputable runway pieces. The second bottle encapsulates Balmain’s iconic silhouette, through a symmetrical design of draping chains and belts that are heavily inspired by their recent collections.
Catching up with the Olivier Rousteing, we found out what he had to say about the launch, the inspiration behind the collection, how he will be celebrating the partnership, and more. Tap in below to see what he had to say!
Why have you decided to collaborate with Chivas?
Over the past decade, each collaboration that I’ve worked on—whether the partner was best known for beauty, tech, skiwear, classical ballet, scents or high-street fashion—has always involved a lot of shared inspirations, decisions and objectives. After all, the point is to make sure that we can actually channel the distinct Balmain DNA into everything we do. And every time, the challenges, materials and production are, of course, quite different.
It’s always humbling to try to work in a new field—there’s just so much to learn! But I believe that we can only truly grow when we challenge ourselves, when we learn new things, when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.
That learning process is one of the big reasons why I loved every second of this partnership: the team at Chivas was so amazingly patient with me, explaining the limitations and possibilities at each step of our long design process.
Accepting new challenges, focusing on new things to learn are actually what help keep me and my team challenged and feeling really alive. That’s why it’s always intriguing to receive offers to work on something other than the products that people expect me to be working on. The learning process is so intense and so rewarding. I love working closely with people who are experts in other areas and who are willing to teach me new things—and, in the end, what I get out of the process always helps to strengthen the work I do for Balmain, by inspiring me to think in new ways when I return to my clothing sketches.
How did the Chivas XV partnership come about?
When the Chivas team came to me to propose this collaboration, I was at first very sceptical. It’s not your typical partnership, is it?
First of all, I needed to ensure that Chivas understood and embraced the same values that set Balmain apart: a love of heritage and an embrace of change. It didn’t take long to see that we are on the same wavelength.
And then, selfishly, I wanted something from this for ME. I choose to partner with those leaders who are willing to show me new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. It not only makes it more interesting — we all love to escape the routine once in a while, right?—but I find that opening myself to new knowledge and experts helps me grow as both a designer and a person. This adventure with Chivas was a fun one and I enjoyed it.
What’s the idea behind the collaboration and what does Balmain bring to it?
Both Balmain and Chivas are historic houses that stand out in their respective universes because of their shared determination to meld together luxury heritage and precise artisanal skills with a completely modern outlook that reflects how we want to live today. That’s why we’ve incorporated so many signature Balmain designs and our easily recognized runway codes into the packaging and unique bottle design. We really want that connection to be clear from the beginning.
Tell us about the design process behind the collaboration?
After being taught by the Chivas experts exactly why Chivas XV was such a singularly delicate and uniquely refined 15 year old Scotch whisky, my goal was to make sure that the design made as clear as possible that this packaging and bottle contained something rare, something of great value. And, well, when you treasure something valuable, it means that it’s something worth defending, right? So, that called to mind a very popular motif from Balmain’s runways: an eye-catching and intricately patterned over-sized golden chain that my team and I created. For this partnership, we’ve reworked that iconic chain to create this collaboration’s coat of armor—a tough shield for an important creation that’s definitely worth protecting.
What does the Balmain Army mean to you?
Almost a decade ago, it was the phrase “The Balmain Army” that stuck while brainstorming for a way to best describe our distinct, diverse, rebellious and empowered force of followers. Of course, there’s nothing aggressive or warlike about our Balmain Army. Instead, we wanted to stress that Balmain’s design and spirit seem to hold an appeal to a band of troublemakers—and I mean troublemakers in the best sense of the term—those strong individuals who can see when it is well past time to create some trouble. They know when it’s time to push back, and push forward (and, frankly, they love to push every envelope along the way!)
How does Chivas align with the Balmain ethos?
Both Balmain and Chivas—in their very different universes—have helped make clear that a mix of tradition, a rigorous attention to detail and a dedication to classic artisanal skills can very beautifully compliment a thoroughly modern outlook. I think it’s great that these two historic houses—with their shared values—have been able to partner on a project that really highlights that distinctive outlook.
What is your idea of the perfect collaboration?
Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would say that if you had asked me that question in 2019, you would be getting a very different answer from the one I’m about to give you today. If there’s anything that being forced apart for so long has taught us is that we need so very much to be together. So, right now, whenever we get together we should try to remember just how much more beautiful we are ensemble, when we are united and honest with one another. And the celebration part? Well, we learned in 2020 just how much stronger we can be when we unite to push—together—for needed, long-overdue changes. I hope we can have many future moments when we can celebrate small and large victories that we accomplish, together.
What is your Armour of the Night?
Ha! I am a fashion designer, but I’ve never been about slipping on some sort of “armour” for the night. Basically, what you see on the Balmain men’s runways reflects my own spirit and style—for both day and night. It’s never an effort or any sort of costume. It’s never anything but honest, beautifully crafted designs that build upon this house’s incredible history and incorporates our atelier’s amazing skills —and, of course, always with my modernizing touch.
How will you be celebrating the launch of the Balmain x Chivas XV collaboration?
Just ask my team—they’ll tell you! Most likely, we’ll have a toast with the entire team in the atelier to celebrate—and then I’ll probably return to my sketches and fittings for the next collection. It truly never stops here, at Balmain! I do know that almost every member of my team will be heading out to some of the incredible pop-ups that Chivas has planned (maybe I’ll sneak out later for one more celebratory toast) and, of course, I am looking forward to gifting some of the new bottles to some of my closest friends.
Who would be the best person to share a dram of Chivas XV with?
A dream dram? You know, I’d love to share a moment—a Chivas Dram— with our house founder, Pierre Balmain. The more I learn about him and the more I explore this house’s rich archives, the more I am fascinated by him. I have a million questions for him and I would love to share with him the work that we’ve been doing over the past decade, building upon the incredible foundation he first began building for Balmain, 75 years ago. He and I are both unexpected choices to be heading up a historic Parisian house. He’s from a tiny village in the French Alps and there’s never been someone who looks like me in a position like this. And I’d love to know more about his earliest days—the audacity and optimism that he displayed in starting this house just after the Liberation of Paris—in a time of shortages and anxiety… that’s something I’ve often reflected upon, especially as we went through the uncertain times of the past year.
How do you enjoy Chivas XV?
I live in a quiet old house, in the East of Paris, near the Bastille, very, very far from the traditional centre of Paris luxury fashion. I love the quiet of that space and often, when I return home from work in the evening (which is usually way, way too late), I love to just sit and soak in the quiet of that moment (especially after a day of non-stop bedlam and anxiety). Those quiet moments are all for me—and it’s a perfect moment to listen to some new music, sit back, savour a refined drink and just chill.
Can you describe the collaboration in three words?
Distinct, complementary, heritages.
The Balmain x Chivas XV collection drops on October 11th via select high-end retailers, ephemeral stores and Chivas.com.
Drop 1 will be available exclusively at Selfridges from 11th October at an RRP of £160, limited to only 200 bottles across the UK.
Drop 2 will be available nationally from 22nd November via select Prestige retailers, RRP £60, with 2,000 bottles available.
Click here for more information.