Charles de Vilmorin debuts at Rochas with juxtaposed mode
Paris’ big debut this season was Charles de Vilmorin at Rochas, the current enfant terrible of French fashion, who made his Wednesday lunchtime debut with a strikingly new fashion statement, where each ensemble seemed radically juxtaposed.
Everyone who mattered in fashion showed up, from Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Anna Wintour. All crowded into three gilded rooms inside the Hotel Mona Bismarck, located on a heavily trafficked stretch of the Seine, opposite the Eiffel Tower. Outside, the hundreds of street photographers and fans almost spilled into the traffic.
It helps that Charles comes from French creative royalty – his grand aunt was Louise de Vilmorin, a famed lady of letters and companion of André Malraux, the world’s first minister of culture.
And there is something about historic France in de Vilmorin’s mode - gothic castles, dark surrealism, Jean Cocteau movies and high-end ‘60s psychedelic. Miles Davis meets Saint Laurent – Charles is his doppelganger - on acid.
De Vilmorin is an innately gifted artist and illustrator, evident again from his invitation – a curvaceous series of detailed pen strokes showing a piano, stool and wild flowers. Even more so in the brilliant way he made the location his own – over-painting all the ground floor windows of the mansion with his sketches of funky voluptuous Amazons.
There was plenty to admire in this debut runway collection. His previous collections for his eponymous label were all shows in presentations and videos.
At Rochas, he opened with a cutaway shoulder leather military shirt worn over tinsel plissé skirt and golden pirate boots; and then a medieval, laced-up leather dress worn over a white smock shirt and anchored by bio-morphist red and yellow boots.
The roots of his ideas are certainly grand, but the result are very groovy. Though quintessentially French, if he reminds one of anyone it is probably Vivienne Westwood.
De Vilmorin’s big trick was attaching stiff tulle along multiple sleeves, shoulders and trims, almost like fish fins. It added an otherworldly element to metallic rouched cocktails; form-fitting tops or maids in plissé dresses.
Though the most beautiful looks were his white poplin tents dresses and mannish shirts – in a partly co-ed show – finished with his phantasmagoric sketches.
Working with stylist Camille Bideau Waddington added in touch of funky glamour. Which was needed, as if the collection had any obvious fault it was that it looked too much his previous ideas for his own house.
But de Vilmorin is young, still in his mid 20s, and has plenty of ideas in his mind. Expect his career to soar – he is that good.
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