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Even if you’re not familiar with every collection Balmain’s ever produced, odds are you’re aware that there’s a strength affiliated with the French label. Strong shoulders. Strong silhouettes. Strong runway shows. And—most recently—a clique of strong women that systematically crop up not only on the catwalk, but in the brand’s print ads, and on the arm of its 28-year-old charismatic creative director Olivier Rousteing.
This battalion is known as the Balmain Army, a phrase that’s going to be even more mainstream after Sunday’s announcement that the brand would be collaborating with H&M—news that was confirmed by supermodel Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner at the Billboard Music Awards.
Like a handful of high-fashion labels right now, Balmain has leveraged its relationships with the It-girls we often see on TV, in the tabloids, and on Instagram—a wise move, considering the brand will be in every mall in America come November. But for every social media snap we see of Kim and Kris Kardashian, Kendall, Rihanna, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley partying with Rousteing, he’s also managed to surround himself with real-deal Fashion (yes, with a capital F) models like Amanda Wellsh, Binx Walton, Issa Lish, and Ysaunny Brito, effectively making his army a strong one—one that’s equal parts familiar sexpots and exotic glamazons.
At Sunday’s Billboard awards, it was essentially a Balmain takeover, with even more starlets turning up to the red carpet dressed in the label and traveling in a pack, including Taylor Swift, Lily Aldridge, Chrissy Teigen, and Kylie Jenner, all of whom feature prominently on Instagram when you do a search for the hashtag #BalmainArmy. It’s a smart way for a very, very aspirational (read: expensive) label to align itself with the social media generation ahead of the H&M launch, while letting us know the world’s coolest girls are all about the brand.
So, what exactly makes a viable member of the Army? “It’s not about age, it’s not about color, it’s not about countries,” Rousteing recently told Vogue UK. “The women I dress are powerful, they are strong, they are women who are going to change the world.”
While said army always seems to be shifting, we’ve compiled a handy guide that outlines the core models, starlets, and It-girls part of Rousteing’s girl group.
Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner
Rousteing has long considered supermodel Dunn a muse—she regularly walks the Balmain runway and stars in the label’s print campaigns, while also being a pretty prominent fixture on the creative director’s arm.
Jenner is a newer, more mass addition to the “army” and has walked in the brand’s fashion shows and she’s done numerous shoots with Rousteing, though she’s yet to appear in an official campaign for the brand.
After being introduced to her by Kanye West, Rousteing has taken a big liking to Kim Kardashian—and, interestingly, her mother Kris Jenner—and regularly hangs out with them in Paris. Kim, not surprisingly, has worn Balmain to everything from her Paris bachelorette party to the MTV Video Music Awards.
The It-model might not be household name, but she’s arguably Rousteing’s biggest muse—he’s talked frequently how taken he was by her the first time they met, and how she embodies what his brand is about. The Tennessee native is a founding member of Olivier’s chick clique, regularly appearing on Balmain’s runways and in ads.
The gorgeous model appeared in in Balmain’s Fall/Winter 2014 campaign, and is often photographed with the “army.”
Another model member of the Army, this beauty also appeared in Balmain’s Fall/Winter 2014 campaign.
Before Rihanna was unveiled as the Spring ’14 face of Balmain, we had some clues that a partnership between the pop star and the fashion house was on the horizon. In June 2013, during her long, fashion-filled trip to Paris, RiRi managed to find the time to stop by Balmain’s studio, where she played dress up with Rousteing. Instagram fiend Rihanna heavily documented the duo’s day, showing off shots from their personal fashion show, as well as heaping praise on Rousteing, captioning one snap: “It’s like wearing a Mona Lisa trust me! This shit is art, like you don’t even wanna touch it!!”
On his part, Rousteing has called Rihanna his muse, and said she “could turn him straight.”
Not a household name, model Wellsh walks Balmain runways, and was part of the all-green-wearing Balmain Army pictured above.
The British actress and model was Rousteing’s date to the 2014 Met Gala, and also regularly rocks Balmain on the red carpet, and posts Instagram snaps of she and the designer generally being fabulous. For Spring 2015, Rousteing tapped a heavy roster of bombshell models to appear in Balmain’s ads, including Rosie.
This 29-year-old veteran model appeared in Balmain’s Spring ’15 campaign.
For Spring 2015, former Victoria’s Secret Angel Lima also starred in Balmain’s print ads.
Model Fontana also appeared in Balmain’s Spring 2015 campaign, in addition to walking runways for the brand.