In a heartbreaking Instagram post on Saturday, Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing shared a shocking photo of himself one year after a fireplace explosion in his home left his body covered in burns.
In the photo, Rousteing, 36, has his upper body and head covered in bandages, while burn marks are visible across his face. The creative director had kept the extent of his injuries quiet for much of the past year.
In the post, he wrote, "I finally feel ready to share this. I’ve been hiding this for too long and it’s time for you to know. Exactly a year ago, the fireplace inside my house exploded."
"I woke up the next morning in Paris’ Hôpital Saint Louis," he continued. "The talented staff at that famous hospital, which was dealing with an incredible number of COVID cases at that same time, took amazing care of me. I cannot thank them enough. I did everything to hide this story from as many people as possible and trying to keep the secret with my teams and friends for too long. To be honest I am not really sure why I was so ashamed , maybe this obsession with perfection that fashion is known for and my own insecurities…"
Rousteing, who became the youngest and only Black creative director for Balmain at 24, went on to say that he spent the year covering his burns with face masks, turtlenecks, long sleeves and multiple rings on his fingers.
As he recovered, "I just worked days and night to forget and creating all my collections, trying to keep the world dreaming with my collections."
The inspiration was more than clear in the Balmain Spring/Summer 2022 fashion show this past September, where various models were draped in bandage-like pieces.
In fact, in a separate Instagram post featuring several of these looks, Rousteing wrote, "Rebirth & Freedom. I remember the long conversations I had with my doctor @drserror that I can’t thank enough and he told me : you will be fine, it’s gonna be fine. I remember when they took out all my bandages it felt FREEDOM."
He added that this last show (which featured Doja Cat performing, a Beyoncé voiceover, and Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni walking, no big) was about "the celebration of healing over pain," thanking not only his models, the production team and the Balmain family, but his doctors and nurses.
"Today, I feel so free, so good and so lucky," Rousteing writes. "I’m beginning a new chapter with a smile on my face and a heart full of gratitude. To the doctors and nurses at Saint Louis, and to all those who helped me during this long recovery and kept my secret : a profound thank-you. I love you."
The beloved designer's posts were met with a swarm of loving comments, with Kim Kardashian writing, "🙏🏼 I love you." Cardi B wrote, "God bless you 🙏🏽," while model Lily Aldridge wrote, "Sending so much love and thank you for sharing your story." Adriana Lima added, "Thankfully you are ok! What a scary moment," and Tyson Beckford wrote, "Bless up you're still here and thriving my brother."
Despite his circumstances, Rousteing has never had as big a platform as recently, having been the centre focus of last year's Netflix documentary Wonder Boy, in which he searched for his biological parents and shared his experiences with racism while growing up in France.
That summer, he shared with People, "Many people know me as the Balmain designer, but I want to let them know the human being behind the French fashion house."
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