Friday, 6 March 2009

In with the new, out with the old

Watching the revolving doors at Paris houses is one of my favourite sports so it was with some pleasure I witnessed an encouraging new dawn at the Rochas label yesterday.

Quiet luxe was the mantra for a newly invigorated Rochas, now in the hands of ex-Halston and Versace designer Marco Zanini, who did not disappoint with a well pitched commercial collection that had exquisite detailing and French sophistication as its focal points.

Zanini told a handful of key editors and top buyers that this collection was not about extravagance. "I didn't need to look in the house archive, I just knew what I wanted to do. I knew that the collection needed to be an understated modern interpretation of luxe - these pieces don't scream luxury they're very quiet with details in the fit and only for the wearer to know about." The devil really is in the detail with delicate chiffon inserts as under-arm seams or ribbon labels sewn into the tiny pockets.

It was chic elegance all the way for classic French slips, silk blouses or double-face wool coats. Tailoring had a 40s feel while intricately beaded evening dresses rounded off a wardrobe that was a complete departure from when Olivier Theyskins was designing for the house before owners P&G closed it in 2006.

With the most expensive pieces coming in at 2800 euros for shaved calfskin throw on coat or a jewel encrusted beaded LBD for 1800, this is a collection fit for a fashion industry in recession - and judging by the turnout of all the major department store fashion directors filing in to take a peek, Zanini's job looks safe for at least the first couple of seasons.

And can I just say: what an exemplary way to showcase a debut collection. The new Rochas benefitted from low, backlit lighting and revolving mirrors to cast a quiet glow over Zanini's work. Were they all thinking what I was thinking? Has someone got it just right at last - just perfectly pitched clothes that women will instantly want to wear. I hope he stays...

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