Charles de Vilmorin, a prodigy designer at just 24, brought the fashion world to the Palais de Tokyo on the third day of Paris Fashion Week, for his second collection as artistic director of the house of Rochas.
The French designer has created a dark and elegant collection for autumn/winter 2022, combining vintage clothing with modernity. “She’s an intellectual. She’s an artist,” Charles de Vilmorin remarked of the “new Rochas woman” toward whom he sought to depict in this collection. “She has a lot of culture,” he explained, “so I wanted to work with more sophisticated and classic silhouettes.”
Following up on last season’s first show collection, which was a figurative suitcase overflowing with not enough to wear, this season’s second was more pragmatically focused on displaying a categorical cross-section of everything you might envision this abstract intellectual getting into. The mood was a mix of rich Goth and monochromatic New Romantic. There were less attention-seeking but arguably more attention-deserving elements to ponder once you got past the variety of style and accessory-imposed grandes gestes—Cruella talon nails, wrapped pigtails, roughly knotted metal arm and wrist jewellery, maximalist millinery.
A uniform silhouette was represented by a succession of gowns with broad, almost floating skirts hung beneath small waisted full shouldered bodies. There were a couple of stunning hammered silk Le Smokings: one single-breasted in bronze, one double-breasted in black and one single-breasted in black jacquard. The show also featured multicolour patchwork leather boots and studded-strap boots.
A colourful centre section was sandwiched between the monochrome opening and closing periods, returning to the lamé plissé of the previous season in skirts and blouses.
After three seasons, the roster included appealing and commercially viable looks, which is always a plus for an incumbent artistic director. But it also felt like he’d gone too far in his endeavour to distil Rochas’ character down to its essence, removing the particular seasoning that his own style was supposed to contribute to the process.