“It’s Paris meets Egypt,” said Olivier Rousteing before his Balmian show: “because every morning when I wake up I see the Obélisque on La Concorde, and the Pyramide du Louvre . . . . I think it’s really important to mention that so much of the beauty of Paris is in its history, and its history is not only what we call French.” Egypt is a significant part of the visual dialect of postcolonial Parisian architecture thanks in part to Napoleon Bonaparte’s small-man-complex warring there: The Foire du Caire was built in 1798, while the Fontaine du Palmier and the Fontaine du Fellah followed a few years later. The Luxor Obelisk, over 3,000 years old, a mighty sliver of heritage, was given to France in 1829 by the then-Ottoman ruler of Egypt—so they didn’t just steal it, British-style—and those pyramids were put in place as recently as 1989 by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei.
Rousteing returns every season to Paris as the prime inspiration for his collections because it is here—after his upbringing in Bordeaux and precocious apprenticeships in Italy—where, during the last eight years, he has defined his professional métier.Below, Rousteing’s pay homage to Egypt-the collection.