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Olivier Rousteing shares details of fireplace explosion, says it inspired his work at Balmain

Fashion designer hid the impact of his burns using golden bands and avant-garde gloves

Saman Javed
Sunday 27 February 2022 23:30 GMT
The designer says he his his injuries using golden bands and avant-garde gloves
The designer says he his his injuries using golden bands and avant-garde gloves (Getty Images)

Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing has opened up about the explosion at his home which left him with burns across his body, revealing that his injuries have inspired some of his work.

In a written first-person account for British Vogue, published on Saturday, the French fashion designer said the “entire front” of his body became “engulfed with flames” when his gas fireplace exploded during a small dinner party at his home in October 2020.

Rousteing initially hid his injuries from most of his friends, family and work colleagues, but eventually revealed that he had suffered burns from the accident in a candid post to his Instagram in October 2021.

Writing in Vogue, the designer said he had disguised the impact of the burns, which had caused his skin to discolour, by wearing golden bands on his fingers and avant-garde gloves.

“My skin was returning, but it was white, due to a lack of melanin, and it contrasted strongly with my darker skin,” he wrote.

“This tonal difference was particularly evident on my fingers, which I decided to hide by covering each with a multitude of golden bands.”

These golden bands can be seen on a number of his Instagram posts, with many followers commenting that they love his hand jewellery.

He also revealed how the accident had inspired Balmain’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection. One dress from the collection had the appearance of being made from white gauze, featuring asymmetrical sleeves and hemline.

A dress from Balmain Spring/Summer 2022 collection
A dress from Balmain Spring/Summer 2022 collection (James Veysey/Shutterstock)

“As I became more honest with myself and others, gradually, without any conscious planning, my reality began to find its reflection in my creations,” he wrote.

“Gauze and dressing started to show up as important elements in many of the designs. And I noticed that my collection’s bandages were – just like my fears and obsessions – loosening themselves, little by little, and, finally, falling away, as they elegantly dangled from the collection’s key pieces.”

Sharing details of the accident, Rousteing said he had run and jumped into his basement pool to extinguish the flames, before being rushed to the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris.

“My left eye was so badly damaged that I could barely see out of it, and every square inch of my body was throbbing with pain,” he said.

Recalling the recovery process, Rousteing said his daily shower became “absolute torture” and anything that touched his skin, including the hospital gowns or bath towels, “hurt so much it took all [his] concentration not to cry or scream”.

He added: “I made the choice early on to avoid morphine and to make it through my recovery process unmedicated – although, to be honest, I considered changing that decision almost daily.”

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