Just How Many Exotic Animals Were Killed For Balmain’s AW17 Collection?

PETA, look away! The catwalk was a walking zoo of snakeskin, crocodile, springbok and shearling

Just How Many Exotic Animals Were Killed For Balmain’s AW17 Collection?

by Lucy Morris |
Published on

For Balmain’s Autumn Winter 17 collection, Olivier Rousteing showed elaborate, body-conscious dresses and intricate outerwear. It was maximalist and highlighted the houses’ finesse at pattern cutting. Rousteing says he was inspired by the ‘awe-inspiring landscapes – the Serengeti, the Far West, Amazonia’ and his sonic youth with Nirvana’s rebellious spirit liberating his ideas of gender. But, what this actually amounted to was a walking cornucopia of spliced and sheared animal skins.


Fashion week has a habit of bringing out the worst in people. From the peacocking for attention to the gratuitous display of wealth and privilege, it’s not always as enlightened and laden with insight as I would like. As much as I adore the depth of detail and artisanal tailoring, I can’t help but feel Balmain was a little off-base with its choice of fabrics.

In moody shades of black, brown and gold, the collection was a global voyage of the animals that roam the world. There was cow, tiger and zebra print, springbok coats, alligator dresses, lizard skin leggings, shearling coats and crocodile dresses.

I tried to count the number of looks that included exotic skins (roughly, 39 out of 81) and the number of animal products used in the collection (around, 30). But, as I'm no expert in zoology and don’t lead a plant-based lifestyle, I asked PETA's Director of International Programmes’ Mimi Bekhechi her thoughts.

She said, 'Olivier Rousteing appears to have sold his soul and set out to court controversy by flaunting a show dripping with cruelty to animals. Unless he lives in a cave, he can't have missed recent PETA exposés that show how vile the process is of procuring animal skins for those thigh-high snakeskin boots and crocodile-skin belts – or perhaps he just doesn't care. Pretending that reptile skins are exotic also fuels poaching, and wildlife experts warn that designers like Rousteing are putting the skins of tomorrow's endangered species on their catwalks. He could learn a thing or two from Stella McCartney – who showcases modern luxury and timeless style with cruelty-free designs.'

Even though the defiant character of Kurt Cobain was barely perceptible in the clothes, it’s arguable that Rousteing’s anarchistic spirit sang loud in his contentious use of skins and fur.

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Follow Lucy on Instagram @lucyalicemorris

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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