Alessandro Dell’Acqua has been delving into the couture heritage of Rochas for a couple of seasons, as a form of antidote to the streetwear flooding luxury fashion. Or perhaps he was inspired by the launch of the house’s latest fragrance, Mademoiselle Rochas Couture, a bottle of which was placed on each seat.

For fall, he took the exploration in two directions. The first was fabric, with materials including a heavy speckled tweed, cloqué textures, and a jacquard covered in wool tufts that looked like tiny feathers. The second was cut, via trapeze and cocoon constructions that harked back to the heyday of post-war haute couture.

A roomy black collarless tweed coat was trimmed with a thick band of jet beads at the hem, while a pleated black cloqué skirt was worn with an oversize short-sleeved shirt in ultrafine glossy black leather. Elbow-length black gloves and skintight black leather over-the-knee boots gave the look dramatic bite.

That edge was missing from some of the other outfits, like a duo of tent dresses in frothy tiered organza. Indeed, some teetered dangerously close to period costume, such as a hump-backed black skirt suit, topped with a saucer-like crinkled plastic hat by Stephen Jones. A striking silhouette, for sure. Wearable? Not so much.

Dell’Acqua said he wanted to go back to the brand’s DNA, “claiming its own personality without chasing trends.” But it’s one thing to bar sneakers from the catwalk, and quite another to transport women back to the house’s heyday in the Forties and Fifties — not to mention that cocoon-shaped skirts are nobody’s friend.

A black boat-necked sheath dress suggested how the spirit of couture might be kept alive by today’s conquering women — the likes of Meghan Markle or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. From the front, it was all business, but the back was cut out in the shape of a heart: a winning combination of elegance and emotion.

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