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To be clear, Olivier Rousteing does not fear the end is near. Neither was this his final curtain: of that, he clarified over WhatsApp post-show, he’s certain. Instead the reason he played “My Way” with such heavy emphasis—“When there was doubt/ I ate it up and spit it out/ I faced it all and I stood tall”—was he said: “about following the voice inside your heart and your soul.”

Yet again, as with every show in his 12 years (and counting) here—this was Balmain by Rousteing without exemption. And yet it was also dramatically different to last season’s stadium-presented festival showcase. That included a star turn from Cher and was great for the casual punter, but also presented a stern challenge for those pros who were there to check the clothes. This season, while still doing things his way, Rousteing pivoted both in presentation and product towards classicism, which is fast becoming a keynote feature of the fall shows more broadly. Presentation wise we were in a smallish, well-lit salon plonked in Le Carreau du Temple’s cavernous darkness: two parallel leather benches with a filling of five circular banquettes (upon which so-called influencers and so-called journalists were mixed freely, without apparent conflict), allowing a total capacity of 220. Said Rousteing pre-show: “I wanted something intimate. To enjoy a moment, after five months’ hard work. Back to origins, the new French style by Monsieur Balmain, and also to me what is passion—luxury and quality. We are surrounded by fireworks and all this craziness—social media—but at the end of the day we go back to quality… to understand the future you must understand the past, and this collection is clearly an homage to the house that I am working for.”

Also backstage was Stephen Jones, who for one season only worked on the hats here—a gorgeous shallow lampshade in moire mohair that was a Balmain design from 1959 and a ’70s beret in leather and other fabrications. He was as twinkly, ebullient and wise as ever. As he pointed out, before Pierre Balmain founded his brand in 1946, he worked alongside Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy for Lucien Lelong: what a studio that must have been.

Under those hats unfolded a collection that featured many direct references to the founder. The look 22 maze monogram, the bows, the pearl-defined polka dots, and the deconstructed tailoring with lapels twisted wonderfully to define generously proper necklines—all were examples of this. But this was no period drama: Rousteing updated Balmain’s original dialect with 21st century technology and contemporary craft, for instance in a new-New Look second look that was shaped out of threaded neoprene. High-shine PVC-like material was draped into off-the shoulder ’40s siren dresses that your mind blew imagining Lauren Bacall in. Capes, so old-school but so wonderfully dramatic, were a big feature; integrated as mohair capelets into tailored jackets or given 100 per cent cape identity in closing pieces studded with pin and crystal.

After last season’s epic wooden shoes, Rousteing partly self-de-platformed this season, delivering cute bow-fronted slippers and pumps (although of course there were a few platforms, this time pearl- or satin-covered, too). Some models toted purposefully anachronistic bags, piles of small luggage bundled together and, inexplicably, a toolbox. Explosive bow dresses, sculpturally architectural corsets, a luscious long coat made of rustling raspberry mesh, and super-built quilted looks followed. Sinatra sang his heart out. Rousteing did not rule out a return to the “va-va-voom” big format show in the future, but this season, as ever, he followed his heart and did Balmain his way.