Wonder Boy premiered on 26th June 2021 on Netflix. Directed and written by Anissa Bonnefont, the 99-minute long docufilm revolves around Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing. The docufilm was first released in France on 27th November 2019.
The first thought that strikes you whenever you talk about the fashion industry is glitz and glam, high-end shows and parties, and more such things. But Wonder Boy is not your everyday documentary that takes you into the industry with the intention of showing what goes behind the scenes. Instead, Wonder Boy, revolving around French fashion designer Olivier Rousteing, shows you the emotional, poignant, and real side of the person and focuses on it throughout. Yes, there are some inevitable ramp, shoot, and show moments here but it’s all a part of the idea, after all, you cannot take fashion out of Rousteing.
Rousteing became the youngest creative director of Balmain at age 25, he is the youngest person to run such a brand since Yves Saint-Laurent. And to his credit, he went on to transform Balmain into a major international player, building a fanbase that includes big names like Kim Kardashian West, Kelly Rowland, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Björk, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, and an entire army named Balmaniacs who follow everything and every move he takes! Additionally, Rousteing also established Balmain as the first French label to pass the million-follower mark on Instagram.
But underneath all the limelight and glam, Rousteing has his own battles to fight, some heavier than the other. Wonder Boy marks Rousteing’s quest to learn about his origin as he was adopted at birth and has no idea about his roots. As a person of colour in a white family, this matter affects him a lot. The documentary offers another reminder of how fashion designers are complex humans, vulnerable professionals working under duress in a multi billion-dollar industry that we all enjoy criticising. And how they are capable and more than what we get to see through interviews and magazines. It’s more than the Page 3 life.
Over the course of a year, we see Rousteing as he creates new collections, strains over runway presentations, travels around the world for occasions and photoshoots, and celebrity dress designing. When the designer isn’t working, we see him kickboxing at the gym or relaxing in his beautiful Paris flat, which is as lavishly ornamented as his haute couture designs. But all these acts as a background to the bigger purpose of the documentary i.e., Rousteing’s internal and personal discourse and problems.
In one particular sequence, we see Rousteing having an existential discourse with himself, questioning the mere purpose of everything he has done and that scene is strong enough to stir a lot of emotions and questions in the mind of the viewers. As the documentary continues, Rousteing gets to see his adoption file with the help of a social worker in Bordeaux and the revelations are both saddening and shocking. It is in moments like these where you see him breakdown completely and it aches even to the viewers.
There are a lot of layers in Rousteing’s story – it tells you how one can be lonely even when the world looks up to them and more. It humanizes Olivier Rousteing and presents a real image and understanding of the designer as someone away from the limelight and that is what makes Wonder Boy a good watch.
Stream It or Skip It
STREAM IT! Wonder Boy is more honest and real in its approach than other fashion docufilms. There is a sense of grief, reality, and warmth in it that makes it unique and stream worthy!
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