In a season when many brands are flocking back to Paris Fashion Week in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Rochas took a step back, opting for a presentation instead of a show.

Delivered from the pressure of staging a catwalk spectacle, creative director Charles de Vilmorin appeared to relax, delivering 21 looks that offered a more convincing direction for the French heritage brand than last season’s floundering effort.

He did it by focusing on eveningwear, which subtly referenced the label’s heyday in the 1950s. The most obvious examples were a ruby red hourglass bustier dress, and a black evening gown that was scooped away in the front to reveal a tulle underlayer.

“It’s a completely different format from a show. In terms of energy, it’s not the same way of seeing or designing the clothes, so for this presentation, I really wanted a much sharper, more nostalgic collection,” de Vilmorin said.

A mannish checked wool coat was tossed over a nude ribbed sweater and a baby blue tulle maxiskirt, evoking a woman leaving a party in the wee hours, still giddy from the dance floor.

Even the daywear felt dressy, with items including python-print wide-legged pants; an ivory pantsuit and blouse with a ruffled midriff, and a duster coat in a jacquard motif inspired by the designer’s greyhound Terreur.

A black turtleneck dress with a wool lace skirt suggested that knitwear remains an underexplored segment for the label.

While the presentation, staged in a building near Avenue Montaigne that is undergoing renovation, was slow and slightly disjointed, it offered a more cohesive vision — one that respected the couture heritage of the house, but still felt in tune with a generation that’s no longer bound by dress codes.

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