Combler une certain manque

olivier_rousteingThere was a poignant story on the French news recently about Olivier Rousteing. The 27 year-old French fashion designer was made the head of the venerable Balmain fashion house two years ago. The Bordeaux native graduated from ESMOD, the École Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode, in 2003. He was hired by Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli where he rose quickly to dUnmmthe role of creative director of the women’s ready-to-wear line.

Rousteing came to Balmain with his mentor, Christophe Decarnin, in 2009 when the latter was made artistic director. Both designers are known for their sexy, rock and roll silhouette. Rousteing assumed the same role at Balmain that he’d exercised at Cavalli. When Decarnin left, some big names were proposed to take over, but the decision was made to promote from within the ranks. Rousteing hasn’t disappointed. His star-studded client list includes Demi Moore, Beyoncé, and Madonna.

BalmainBut it wasn’t his meteoric rise that was featured on the news, but rather his personal story. Rousteing was adopted when he was one year-old. He knows nothing about his birth family and he has chosen to keep it that way. He could ask to look at his file, but he’s afraid that nothing he finds there could justify abandoning a baby. Hearing Rousteing’s grandfather talk about how much he loves him was very sweet. Although his adoptive family clearly loves him deeply, Rousteing says that his ambition is driven by a constant search for recognition to fill the lack he still feels. The expression Rousteing used was combler une certain manque (komblay oon serten mahnk). We’re emotionally fragile creatures, aren’t we?

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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