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Balmain's Olivier Rousteing on Why Designing Clothes is All About Sex

"For any designer, making a collection is like therapy."

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Olivier, what role does sex play in your creative process as a fashion designer?
I think sex is really important because there is a lot to play with when you have sex on your mind. It's something that has no limit and no boundaries. And what is cool about sex is that it's all about some kind of fantasy. When I create clothes for a girl, in my mind I always think about what I would want if I were the girl or if I would love to have sex with her. So it's really something where I play different roles and I kind of like that.

Is it easy for you to imagine yourself as a girl?
Sometimes I'm going too far away because I'm not a girl, so I do something I would love to wear if I were a girl and the girls at my studio are like, "It's maybe too much." Where I'm like, "It's never too much." After my first show somebody asked me "Does your girl have sex on the first night?" And I said she can't because the dress is so complicated. It's so difficult and so heavy. So actually I think when you wear Balmain you can't have sex that fast, even though everybody thinks like that.

Like you said, sex is often more about fantasy.
Yeah, my way of seeing sex is really different. At the end of the day I would think the dress is more why you have sex. My women are soldiers, they are like big fighters, and when they go to a club they will be looking for the man in the middle of the crowd and grab him like she is on a safari and she's a lion. I love the power of women and I love the fact that she's on top of the man. I think that's what excites me about my woman. She's stronger than a man, like the shoulders and the structure of the clothes.

What is the most sexual thing a woman can wear in your opinion?
I think I love girls with pants most. I love girls in jumpsuits too, maybe just because she's like a man at the same time! (Laughs) You know, there is this kind of thing where she can be super sexy and kind of boyish. I think it's way more attractive.

Is it generally easier to express sex in women's clothes than in men's clothes?
When I'm a man and I sketch for myself you can see my boundaries and my limits, because obviously I have a lot of limits in sex ... This interview is going a lot like a therapy session! (Laughs) When I sketch for a woman it's all about fantasy, but when I sketch for men it's actually sketching for myself and there are a lot more restrictions. I'm more scared. I'm really a shy guy at the end of the day.

It sounds like you have a pretty personal approach to fashion.
You do fashion because you want to express something. For any designer, making a collection is like therapy. So when there is a collection that is completely dark or kind of sad or tortured, you can imagine that the designer obviously has to be like that in real life because it's his state of mind at the moment. But there is nothing better than doing a collection and being true to yourself. And I think that's the success of a collection, when it's really you and not trying to be someone else.

Read more of The Talks with Olivier Rousteing here.

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