Início Tech Balmain Has Done a ‘Lion King’ Collaboration as Disney Film Hits 30...

Balmain Has Done a ‘Lion King’ Collaboration as Disney Film Hits 30 Years


Olivier Rousteing can certainly identify with the main character of “The Lion King.”

When he was a nine-year-old boy growing up with his adoptive parents in Bordeaux, France, he related to Simba’s missions: “Creating your own kingdom, fighting for success, fighting for freedom,” he recalled in an interview on Wednesday.

To be sure, Rousteing was something of a cub when Balmain presented the fashion wunderkind, only 24 years old, as its new creative director back in 2011.

Now, in a nifty circle-of-life moment, Rousteing and Balmain are collaborating with “The Lion King” creator Walt Disney Animation Studios on a fashion collection to mark the 30th anniversary of one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, which also spawned a hit stage musical.

Spanning everything from T-shirts and accessories to couture-caliber dresses, the limited-edition Disney x Balmain: The Lion King collection is to launch July 8 on balmain.com and key Balmain boutiques, as well as Saks Beverly Hills and saks.com.

A campaign image for the Disney x Balmain: The Lion King collection.

Joel Anderson

“I wanted to approach it in a couture way,” Rousteing said, citing a wish to exalt the craftsmanship and artistry that exists in Africa and in Balmain’s formidable Paris ateliers.

Revealing the multifangled project in an exclusive interview, Rousteing drew other parallels between his life and and fictional adventures of a young lion who confronts his fears, overcomes obstacles and embraces his true identity.

“Obviously, ‘The Lion King’ is about Africa, so it felt like a reference to my own origins,” said Rousteing, whose discovery that he is of Somalian Ethiopian descent was detailed in the 2019 documentary “Wonder Boy” about the search for his birth parents.

“No matter where you come from, choose where you want to go,” the designer said, echoing one of the movie’s key morals: learning from your past.

To be sure, Rousteing has propelled Balmain by drawing key codes from the archive of founder Pierre Balmain, while leveraging his social-media savvy, putting diversity and inclusivity at the top of his agenda, and taking a community-building approach to everything.

For the Disney collaboration, he collaborated with three emerging talents: South African painters Nika Mtwana and Cassius Khumalo, plus Cameroonian artist Enfant Précoce.

For example, Mtwana took an “Afrofuturistic” approach, managing to incorporate a scene from “The Lion King” via a reflection on the lens of his subject’s sunglasses.

A dress from the Disney x Balmain: The Lion King collection.

Joel Anderson

“It’s really important to show the strength of Africa, from the past and into the future,” Rousteing said.

The designer traveled to a desert not far from Cape Town to shoot the campaign, and described a nearly spiritual connection to the country from the moment he stepped off the plane and breathed the air.

He was also greeted like a fashion hero by the local production team and 30 local models, who told him he was an inspirational figure as “the first French Black designer in French luxury.” One woman whispered in his ear, “Don’t forget you are loved and you belong here,” bringing him to tears.

The designer also marveled about his trip to Los Angeles and a tour of Disney’s studios, “where all the magic happens.”

The flurry of activity around “The Lion King” anniversary comes ahead of the December release of the prequel “Mufasa: The Lion King,” and the “Lion King In Concert” on July 5 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The latter event will debut a short film directed by Femi Oladigbolu and produced by Disney in collaboration with Balmain. Shot at various locations in South Africa’s Western Cape province, it showcases the “Lion King” collection amid the natural beauty of the country.

In addition, ABC Owned Television Stations plans to broadcast a documentary special titled “On the Red Carpet Storytellers Spotlight: Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ x Balmain,” as well as a special episode of “Localish Unfiltered,” which will also appear on Hulu starting July 10.

Tasia Filippatos, president of Disney Consumer Products, said the collaboration was “fueled by powerful creative synergies as well as Olivier’s personal journey.”

“The collection is deeply rooted in the story of ‘The Lion King,’ and Olivier’s understanding of the film’s emotional and visual impact served as the driving force behind what we created together.”

Rousteing noted that Balmain’s “Lion King” project arrives a delicate time in France, where several candidates in the upcoming snap election later this month are vowing to curb immigration.

The designer called France an “incredible country of mix races, diversity and inclusivity,” he said. “I’m a French citizen, but my blood is obviously African. I think the beauty of France is that you can create your own life here, and be part of the country no matter where your blood is from. So I think it’s a really important timing.”

A men’s look from the Disney x Balmain: The Lion King collection.

Joel Anderson



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