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Olivier Rousteing: Childhood made me tough

Olivier Rousteing: Childhood made me tough

Olivier Rousteing isn't affected by bad reviews because he's already experienced more severe hatred in his life.

The creative director of Balmain was adopted when he was five months old and immediately felt secure with his new family. They supported his interests as a boy, so it came as something of a shock when he realised not everyone viewed fashion in the same way as he did.

"When you have to face life's big difficulties, ones that are way worse than a bad collection review, it makes you stronger. A bad review is less painful for me than what I experienced at ten years old. I was really into fashion, and kids at school said, 'If you love fashion, you're gay.' High school was the worst," he told the British edition of Vogue magazine.

Although Olivier's mother Lydia and father Bruno-Jean always made it clear he was as loved as if he'd been their biological child, the designer experienced some prejudice. He is black and his parents are white, and while that made no difference to him it was hard for some of his peers growing up.

"Rather than thinking I was adopted, I thought, 'They love me, they are my parents.' But from about aged ten through to high school, people would say, 'Oh, you're a b*****d, your parents are white and you're black.' Or, 'Your mum slept with a black man,' or, 'Your dad was with a black woman.' It was really complicated," he explained.

Olivier was very close to his grandmother Suzelle, who he has to thank for his devotion to fashion. She was always into clothes and accessories and would take him to the opera, where he studied the costumes.

When he was older and started going to nightclubs Suzelle would go with him, and he has an idea why she felt so close to him.

"I know that in her youth my grandma was in love with a black man, but my great-grandmother said to her, 'If you marry this black man, you are not part of the family anymore.' I think that was the big sadness of her life. I know that my parents, when they adopted me, said to my great-grandmother, 'If you once say anything about the colour of our kid, we won't see you anymore,'" he recalled. "So from that moment I was more than welcome."

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