19:52: Behind her, Kendall Jenner makes her entrance. Satin clutches and hot dates are nice, but Kendall is better accessorized. She has Gigi Hadid on her arm.
20:02: Supermodel Alek Wek slinks inside, pausing to twirl in a bedazzled fuschia sheath for curious onlookers. Meanwhile, actor Zachary Quinto and model boyfriend Miles McMillan make a beeline for the bar to have a quick drink before the show starts. “I love the fact that this collaborations allows people to express themselves in ways that they might not otherwise be able to,” Quinto explains, nodding toward his striped sweater from the collection. “It makes us all look good.” He smiles: “Cheers to that.”
20:14: Elsewhere, Soo Joo Park chimes in. The model has been a Balmain devotee “from the beginning.”
“I saw the clothes and I identified with them,” she remembers. “Balmain is all about strong women. It’s very empowering. I’ve always loved that.” For her part, Coco Rocha is more emboldened than ever. A new mom, she declares that she is no less a #BalmainGirl. “This year was the first time I ever sat to watch Balmain [during Fashion Week],” she muses. “It was his best yet, I think.” And while Rocha wishes she could have taken it all home with her, she concedes that Balmain x H&M is filled with more realistic purchases. “I will be shopping tonight,” she promises.
20:17: With that, we duck inside the main hall. A massive staircase greets us, guiding us to low benches and our perches for the show.
20:24: An elaborate video fills giant screens, treating us to a super futuristic and very fashionable battle. No surprise: The Kendalls (led by Kendall Jenner, of course) wins. “Next stop,” a voiceover promises, “#HMBalmaination.”
20:27: No sooner did the screens go dark than a militia of contortionists and dancers springs into action. The platoon is evidence that Balmain and H&M worship all women. They are short and tall and blonde and black. A purple-haired dancer gyrates to the beat. And then come the models.
20:30: It is a procession of unreal beauty—Kendall! Gigi! Jourdan Dunn! Karlie Kloss! Each braves the split-level set to give attendees on both levels a good look at the collection. They are all immaculate, of course. But the aesthetic is perfectly undone. Hair is worn in lived-in waves. Makeup is sexed-up and slept-in. A model tucks in only the front of a satiny yellow blouse, letting the back billow behind her. She looks like a goddess.