Just before Coachella was rechristened Beychella, Beyoncé Knowles and Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had an idea. It happened in a rehearsal, while Beyoncé and her dancers were practicing in their Balmain-made looks inspired by the marching band uniforms of America’s historically black colleges and universities. “When she saw all the dancers loving the outfit—and she was loving her own outfit—she realized that what we were creating on stage for her, for all the dancers, was something really impactful,” says Rousteing. It clicked: Why not make a Beyoncé x Balmain collaboration that could make those poignant graphics available to all of Bey’s fans clamoring for a piece of history?
On Friday, July 13, Balmain will launch a three-piece Balmain x Beyoncé collection in its Paris flagship, with the items going on sale on balmain.com and beyonce.com the following day. Comprised of the yellow and pink sweatshirts Beyoncé wore on stage at Coachella, the collection also includes a black tee with the same sorority-inspired graphic.
“I worked really long with her on the Beychella moments, and the fact that we can release this collaboration that is based on our creativity, Beyoncé and I, is really a big, big step for fashion and music together,” continues the designer. “Beyoncé, she’s such a perfectionist; she’s someone that is so strong and has such a great point of view. She’s about feminism, empowering women, and the idea of bringing that collaboration where we can share the same ideas, the same vision of music, the same vision of fashion, the same vision of what is going on in the world, it’s more than just clothes. It’s a strong message, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”
He continues: “Sometimes, you create a moment, and it’s just one moment. With the clothes that we are creating now, it’s going to be a moment that keeps going and going and going. This is something really important. Everybody is always telling me about millennials or about the future—this is the future. This is making sure that these iconic moments talk to the young people. This is something important and this collaboration is talking to the new generation and saying you can get that piece, you can be a part of the history.”
The message, as Rousteing tells it, is to never stop dreaming. He relates Beyoncé’s global success, her message of standing against racism and standing for women, as something he wishes he had growing up in France. “This to me feels really emotional because, as you know, I’m of mixed race. I’m black and my parents are white. I grew up in France without having a real identification of being black and being an adult. I couldn’t see myself in the future, in a way, because there were not so many people in the ’80s or early ’90s that could show me a direction,” he says. “For me, working with Beyoncé, it’s more than only music. It’s about history, working with a woman that’s going to be part of the history and has made her own revolution, not only in music, not only in fashion. She is an icon to an entire generation and so many more generations can follow the steps of Beyoncé and say, ‘You give us hope, you make us dream.’ ”
Proceeds from the collaboration will benefit the United Negro College Fund, following Beyoncé’s $100,000 donation to four historically black colleges after her Coachella set. “The donation was the main goal of this collaboration,” says Rousteing. “We don’t forget where we come from. This is really, really important—I come from an orphanage, you know. I think there is something really emotional about our collaboration.”
Balmain x Beyoncé will be available on July 13 at Balmain’s Paris flagship and from July 14 online and at select retailers; tee, $290; sweatshirts, $550–$1,790