In the Pink: Issa Pressman and Alex Diaz are Shot by Shaira Luna for the Latest Balmain x Barbie Drop - Lookbook

“Being human is and should always be a celebration of diversity and with this collection I think Balmain and Barbie not only reinforce that, but they are celebrating it in a big way.”

Balmain Philippines played on the gender fluidity riff to a Tee when the luxury brand partnered with singer-artist-entrepreneur Issa Pressman Alex Diaz-McDermott for its recent Balmain x Barbie collection release.

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The Balmain x Barbie capsule made its way to Manila loud and proud, and, being the celebrated LGBTQ champions that Pressman and Diaz are, the coming together of all the elements made for gender-bending, fashion-forward magic.

A huge cross-section of the bold and exuberant line takes a novel spin on the Maison’s signatures. This includes its love affair with strong graphics, its now 50-year-old, maze-inspired motif originally designed by Monsieur Balmain as well as iconic silhouettes that were first presented on Balmain Paris Fashion Week runways. Accessories, meanwhile, were offered in covetable hybrids, superbly combining the house’s signature bags and Barbie packaging.

Of course, Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had incredible fun playing with the very familiar spirit and iconography of the pink-forward brand we so adore in this limited-edition line. And, while pink and pastel dominate, the capsule is almost 100 percent unisex. All throughout, the head-turning signature pink palette evolved from the softest of blushes to a host of stronger tones and yet, in the same refreshing breath, spectacularly rejected any arbitrary gender limitations.

Pressman immersed herself in the Barbie universe. Her version of the legendary doll is a boss-babe, with an edgy blazer ensemble. “I do love a playful bossy look so I love this six-button striped blazer!” she says of her pink powerhouse look. “I think this collection wants everyone looking all dolled up…and when I say everyone, I mean… everyone! Balmain x Barbie is a collab that goes beyond fashion… dropping limits and blurring out rules. It’s about setting the spirit of freedom and empowerment, bringing out the true you—loud, proud and pink.”

As for stepping into her distinctly diverse and multicultural role, Pressman couldn’t have expressed any more pride in her being part of the integral messaging of this partnership. “I’ve always been about inspiring honesty and encouraging acceptance. I know when two brands come together for the community, exerting effort to create awareness, [this then] leads to more welcoming, open arms (from individuals outside of the community) and happier, freer spirits (from the LGBTQ+ community).”

This very intention is what fueled and propelled Rousteing’s creative process in the first place. “Being human is and should always be a celebration of diversity and with this collection I think Balmain and Barbie not only reinforce that, but they are celebrating it in a big way,” he says. “But, thankfully, today’s Barbie wholeheartedly embraces everyone’s extraordinary beauty and possibilities.”

Diaz, as Balmain’s and Pressman’s ultimate, inclusive “Ken,” was nothing short of riveting. In fact, the question, “Who’s wearing the pants in this relationship?” didn’t hold any water in this instance as the shared article of “power” clothing just so happened to be the very same blazer. “My personal style has always been more classic so I thought the striped blazer was fantastic!” shares Diaz. “I think the collection is awesome. Barbie defined a generation and Balmain remains to be a heavy hitter in the global fashion industry.”

Diaz believes that he and Pressman “share the color wheel of gender identity and expression is so vast. That’s the beauty of the community—it’s so diverse and I think we represent very unique niches and ideas within that community. It was an honor to be considered as a champion for the community because it also means we are effective in our personal and professional messages of inclusivity, acceptance and love for diversity.”

The photos of Pressman and Diaz-McDermott were taken by Shaira Luna. Johnson Estrella did the makeup while Moriel Gian Flores did the hair.

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