Olivier Rousteing is passionate about diversity and as guest editor for CNN Style, he’s elaborating on why the cause is so important to him. From the beginning of his tenure at Balmain, Rousteing realized that for many people, it wasn’t his talent or his experience that was the most remarkable thing about him getting the job – it was his blackness.
“When the press announced that I was the new creative director for Balmain, the thing that was most shocking for a lot of people was not my age (I was 26 at the time) but my color, and that really surprised me. Suddenly there was all these stories about me being the first black designer in a luxury, heritage fashion house. Sometimes the fashion crowd think they’re really modern and avant-garde, but I think the system can also be quite old fashioned,” he wrote. “I’m proud today to speak about a world where you walk down the street and see so much diversity, different people, different colors, different races. It’s what I want to try to express in my catwalk, in my casting.”
And he’s right. For an industry that touts itself as being forward-thinking, there seem to be a lot of people who are still content to live in a homogenous world that simply doesn’t exist. Rousteing wants to show the industry that there is a big world out there and in it, people (surprise!) look different from each other. “I have the chance to express way more than that: my vision of the world and diversity. It’s always been part of my life, part of my blood and mind, but it’s a topic that you can really express when you’ve grown up and you know who you are. I want to reach people that dream big and that’s why, for me, diversity is such an important topic. It’s something that is part of me and something that I will always fight for.”