One of the standouts from this year's Victoria & Albert Museum fashion exhibition 'Africa Fashion', the Egyptian luxury handbag label Okhtein is now featured in a collaboration with Olivier Rousteing for Balmain.
On Wednesday September 28th, Okhtein's x Balmain’s collaborative piece was unveiled at the Balmain SS23 runway show, held at the Stade Jean Bouin, a stadium in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. The fashion show was part of what the French brand calls its 'Balmain Festival' marking the third of its kind in this fashion, food and fun extravaganza lasting the whole day. In fact, the stadium was filled with activities and retitled the Balmain Festival Village for the occasion.
Okhtein is the fashion child of two sisters, the co-creative directors and co-founders Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf. For Balmain they designed a bold and stunning bustier in worn-out resin, inspired by the iconic Egyptian alabaster stone, from the inspiration behind Olivier Rousteing’s SS23 collection. Balmain presented a collection inspired by the rebirth and rediscovery of the beauty of the Renaissance, highlighting how ancient masterpieces can be adapted to modern times. Essentially, the rediscovery and celebration of the Renaissance's beauty is demonstrated through details and silhouettes that channel the spirit, art, and sculpture of that golden age's greatest thinkers.
Okhtein, meaning “sisters” in Arabic, is a luxury handbag label. The brand is built on the sisters’ passion for recreation and the storytelling of the art and history through one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces. Okhtein aims to redefine the modern Arab woman, challenge global stereotypes, and celebrate the empowerment and heritage of Arab women. Okhtein is about duality, family connections and how unity allows amazing opportunities to emerge.
Okhtein believes the best luxuries in life are those that can be shared.
"Our first encounter with Olivier was back in 2019, when he was one of the judges at the Fashion Trust Arabia. We look up to him on so many levels and truly love his genuineness and passion for what he does." Aya and Mounaz Abdel Raouf
The bustier is enriched with a bangle in Okhtein’s iconic brass material, and the ancient Egyptian postiche. Aya and Mounaz intended to also incorporate the brand’s distinctive snake brass bangle, from their newest ‘Bangle Bag’ along with the postiche, emphasizing on this contrast of the old and the modern, to portray a rebirth. The merging of these elements depict the rebuilding of ancient masterpieces into a wonderful relic, to echo the inspiration of Rousteing’s SS23 collection.
The cuts in the bustier indicate a worn-out appearance, and the resin in its natural color is a striking material that innately gives the look and feel of alabaster.
“This piece was the most challenging project for both of us -- however we found it as an opportunity to push ourselves as designers and product developers. We are grateful for our team and for the factories we work with, for bringing this piece to life”, the two sisters stated.
“We are both thrilled and excited to be collaborating with Olivier Rousteing and Balmain for their SS23 collection. Our first encounter with Olivier was back in 2019, when he was one of the judges at the Fashion Trust Arabia. We look up to him on so many levels and truly love his genuineness and passion for what he does," they added.
"We are excited to be showing a little piece of our brand and its story. Coming from Egypt, a country of rich heritage and history, the story combining both our vision and Olivier’s has been a truly wonderful experience.”
Since 2011, Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has been inventively building upon Pierre Balmain’s extraordinary legacy, while always remaining true to his own determination to design clothes that reflect the way his inclusive, powerful, and global Balmain Army wishes to live today. The result is a unique and instantly recognizable Balmain silhouette, style and attitude that highlights the singular craftsmanship of the house’s celebrated ateliers, while consistently referencing a rich Parisian heritage. More than 75 years ago, when Pierre Balmain first introduced his “New French Style,” it immediately became clear to all that his eponymous house was offering a distinctly fresh, bold, and feminine conception of haute couture, one which broke with many of the well-established conventions of the era.
For more information and to find Okhtein at a shop near you, check out the brand's website.