This time last year, Charles de Vilmorin made his debut as creative director of Rochas with a punky collection engulfed in hand-painted flames. Fast-forward 12 months, and that fire seems to have been extinguished.
A dim blue light bathed the show set in the lobby of the legendary Folies Bergère cabaret music hall, which had been wrapped in white sheets, like an empty mansion. The ambiance was meant to evoke the aftermath of an all-night party.
The looks themselves were a shadow of the designer’s signatures: his swirly oversize drawings replaced by graphic prints, and his Gothic sensibility traded for romantic ruffled dresses and capes.
“I wanted a silhouette that you can project yourself into more easily. It does happen to me on occasion,” he demurred backstage.
The problem is that Rochas lacks a set of clear codes, and de Vilmorin has struggled to latch on to any particular aspect of the house’s archives. Like his windowpane-check shorts that segued into sheer pleated chiffon palazzo pants, this collection suffered from an identity crisis.
A fuchsia printed crop top came with a matching skirt over pants set, while an oversize ivory tailored jacket with detachable sleeves was worn with stocking boots with round glass paperweight heels that looked like a love child of Balenciaga and Loewe footwear designs. The display ended with a sheer blouse and floor-length hoop skirt covered in a whimsical cat print.
A product of the social media generation, De Vilmorin was named to the post less than a year after launching his label during lockdown, and the 25-year-old is still evolving his creative identity. Perhaps it was unfair to expect so much so fast, but he was charged with reviving Rochas. Right now, the brand is suffering from a weak pulse.