A photograph of Hélène Rochas, the wife of founder Marcel Rochas, with a fake bird draped over her torso held sway over Charles de Vilmorin’s second runway outing for the storied French house.
Aiming to create for a woman he described as being “quite intellectual and an artist,” he said he was more interested in translating house heritage as a mood and lifestyle, rather than reference any particular design features. “This collection talks about freedom and something super sophisticated,” he said before the show.
Emphasis on the waist and plissés were the main elements that he used to define the silhouette of the season, executed in a mostly black palette meant to highlight textures and lending an eveningwear tone to the collection. Madame Rochas’ winged adornment was referenced in prints of feathers and birds, but also in the way the pleats that made sweeping sleeves and floor-grazing gowns fan out when in motion. Those looked particularly striking on the runway.
There were attractive and commercially viable pieces in the lineup — always a plus for an incumbent artistic director. But it also felt as if he’s gone too far in this attempt to cut back to an essential expression of Rochas’ identity, shaving away the distinctive flavoring that his own aesthetic was meant to bring to the process.