This H&M collection looks a lot like Balmain’s ready-to-wear. How did you keep the prices down?
It was my biggest challenge. Everything had to look luxe, with the same Balmain tailoring, but we modified the [patterns], changed the stones and found fabrics and pearls that looked similar to ones I’ve used. I wanted to make sure the people who support me and follow me, but can’t afford Balmain Paris, could still have a piece of the dream.
Let’s talk about your 1.3 million Instagram fans. Why do you think they follow you?
Maybe because they want to know my story. I came from an orphanage. I’m black and working in a luxury French house. I started [at Balmain] when I was 25. Thanks to Instagram, I’m more connected to real people—not just my front row.
You say your friends and fans are part of the #BalmainArmy—do you see your clothes as a kind of armour?
Yes, that’s exactly what I feel. When you wear Balmain, you are more than just a party girl. You are expressing something stronger.
Are you worried Balmain customers won’t like seeing mass-market versions of items they’ve purchased?
I’m not scared at all. This collection looks really similar to Balmain, but they are all past designs I don’t do anymore. Plus, Balmain is a brand that already has a lot of copies [out there], and I haven’t lost any customers because of that.
Why are you using the hashtag #HMBalmainNation to promote this line?
It’s going to be sold in more than 300 stores, so the Balmain Army becomes like a nation. And when you wear these clothes, you join the nation.