Mountains and Moleskin: Balmain Homme Fall 2012

Balmain Hommes 2012 Karim Sadli

Gentle reader,

I went on a hike with James Killough the other day.  And when I say “hike,” I mean “mountain death march.”  Did you see that movie where James Franco gets stuck between two rocks and has to chew his arm off?  Yeah, me neither but it was totally like that.

It began peacefully enough as we parked in the shade in Beachwood Canyon and hiked up the steep streets toward the Hollywood sign until the road ended onto the wide dirt trails of Griffith Park.  The climb to the summit behind the sign was challenging in the hot sun but the views of L.A. and the Hollywood Reservoir on one side and the studios and San Fernando Valley on the other were worth the effort.

James Tuttle Hollywood Sign

As we made our way back down, I exchanged a few text messages with my client Kaley on a photo shoot with the cast of her show “The Big Bang Theory.”  The photos were going to be really fun, inspired by a couple of Blondie album covers and if that was supposed to be a secret, you didn’t hear it from me.  Anyway, that’s what I was doing when Killough suggested a detour down the hill that lead us away from the chattering tourists taking pictures of each other.  We soon reached a big, padlocked gate and, rather than turn back, we scurried down the hill through the dry brush to get around it.  No such luck.  We then ventured down a steeper hill where I slipped on the dry grass and fell in the dust and, as we carefully made our way along an old stairway of railroad ties staked into the rocky hillside, I pictured our lifeless bodies baking in the sun as ravenous coyotes picked at our charred limbs.

Finally, we reached a paved road that looked like we’d returned to civilization except for another tall fence that, as luck would have it, was posted with strongly worded “No Trespassing” and “Government Property” signs everywhere and we were on the inside!  It must have been some abandoned U.S. Government testing site.  Great.  The coyotes didn’t get us but now it looked like the zombies would.  Luckily, we spied a place where the spiky fence was bent over and, though it was a long jump down, at least we were free—sweaty and sunburned in the wrong fucking canyon, but free.

Well, I’ve put off writing about this fall’s fashion because it’s still so damned hot but there’s no way to avoid it any longer so stick your head in the fridge for a couple of minutes and let’s take a look at what’s going on at Balmain Homme.  From the very first article on TuttleMode, I’ve admitted that there was no line I’d rather wear because designer Christophe Decarnin rode the perfect balance between luxe fashion and rock star grunge with his outrageously priced motorcycle jeans and military inspired jackets.  The aesthetic evolved slowly from season to season so that you didn’t feel compelled to throw it all out and start over every few months and that was a good thing because it was so damned expensive.  When poor Christophe got tossed into the looney bin or whatever the hell happened to him, twenty-something pretty boy Olivier Rousteing took the reins without changing the direction too drastically.  Slowly, the tiny holes and distressed denim treatments made way for more polished fabrications but the silhouettes and military inspirations held on for the most part.

For this fall/winter outing, Rousteing cited the nineteenth century officers of the Imperial Russian Army officers as a source so it makes sense that the leather jeans would be replaced with crimson moleskin ones and there are still some beautiful jackets, too.  When photographed for the Fall/Winter 2012-2013 Lookbook by Karim Sadli, an occasion I’ve looked forward to each season, czarist Russia was replaced by a World War II backdrop and the clean military feel was more pronounced.  It’s not my favorite men’s collection these days but you still wouldn’t want to get between me and that double-breasted coat unless you’ve had serious martial arts training.  Sadly, my days as a Balmain fan will be over when spring 2013’s depressing Havana-Miami-Safari collection hits the rails but that’s how it is in fashion.  As Heidi Klum says in her lilting German accent, “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out.”  Do you think she could call Olivier for me so I don’t have to tell him myself?

Check out the slide deck below of photos of the collection by Sadli.

Much love,


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