Quick Quotes. Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing Talks Diversity in Fashion and in France.

Olivier Rousteing

Since he first took the helm of the brand in 2011 at the age of 25, Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director of Balmain, has transformed the French fashion house into a sleek celebrity favorite. Rihanna featured in a series of ads for the brand in 2013, and Kanye West stars in the latest collection of ads. Balmain pieces regularly make an appearance on most major red carpets. The brand also features models of color pretty regularly, both on the runway and in ads. The young designer known for his dashing good looks as well as his talented, recently shared some perspectives on fashion, Charlie Hebdo, France, and Rihanna with the Telegraph.

On being one of the few black fashion designers leading a major brand.

What I love about Balmain, even more than the style, is that they gave me this chance to express myself at such a young age, and trusted me, despite my colour, my age and my point of view that is sometimes a bit controversial,” he says.

On body diversity in the fashion industry

“Fashion had started to forget women in a way, and concentrate too much on the clothes. For me it made no sense,” he says. “In fashion the biggest moment was when the models were celebrities – we all remember Naomi, Claudia, Carla, Linda. The woman had to come back; the curved woman, and different kinds of body shapes. I don’t like skinny girls. I want to represent a real woman, not just a shadow or a ghost.”

On diverse casting.

“Honestly, you still count how many colours of people you have in the show?” he rails. “It’s just sad. There is no other word. It’s fashion getting old. Just two black girls? In the whole city? I don’t think it would be the same with blond girls.”

On the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the future of diversity in France.

“Some Muslims in Paris are scared to be judged for this event,” he continues. “But it’s not their fault. We need to be careful that we don’t associate what happened with the wrong things. I hope the country won’t go to extremes. We have a Front National…” he tails off. “I’m really scared of [the] racism too. Freedom is the most important thing. Freedom in every way. All the good art is political. It can be really controversial but what is important today is that we don’t mix up what happened with black religion. We can’t misunderstand.”