Paris Fashion Week is always an exciting time of year for fashion lovers and insiders alike, but this season was especially anticipated after the challenges of the past year. While many brands flocked back to the city to showcase their latest collections, the French heritage brand Rochas took a different approach.
Creative director Charles de Vilmorin opted for a presentation instead of a show, which allowed him to focus on the clothes without the added pressure of staging a catwalk spectacle. And the result was impressive.
At just 26 years old, de Vilmorin exudes a charming, old-world air that harkens back to the heyday of Rochas. He speaks of outfits as being for day or evening, just as Marcel Rochas would have done 70-odd years ago. But he also manages to infuse a modern sensibility into the brand, appealing to a generation that’s no longer bound by dress codes.
For this presentation, de Vilmorin focused on eveningwear, which subtly referenced the label’s 1950s heyday. A ruby red hourglass bustier dress and a black evening gown that revealed a tulle underlayer were among the highlights.
But even the daywear felt dressy, with python-print wide-legged pants, an ivory pantsuit 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 also suggested that knitwear remains an underexplored segment for the label.
The presentation was staged in a building near Avenue Montaigne that is undergoing renovation, which added to the slow and slightly disjointed feel of the event. But it also offered a more cohesive vision, one that respected the couture heritage of the house while still feeling fresh and modern.
“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.
And that’s exactly what he delivered. From the mannish checked wool coat tossed over a nude ribbed sweater and baby blue tulle maxiskirt to the black turtleneck dress with a wool lace skirt, each piece felt like a nod to the past while also feeling relevant for today’s fashion-conscious consumer.
In a season when many brands are focused on the great fashion mash-up, it’s refreshing to see a designer who’s willing to stay true to a brand’s heritage while still pushing it forward. And with Charles de Vilmorin at the helm, it’s clear that Rochas is in good hands.