Stéphane Rolland fêtes femininity in virtuoso haute couture show
Energy and emotion were at the heart of it all for French couturier Stéphane Rolland: the venue, the setting and of course the Autumn/Winter 2017-18 collection he showcased on 4th July. The designer celebrated his label's ten years in fashion at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, presenting a rather special collection, at once grand and much more than a mere anniversary effort.
Far from being a 'best of', the collection bore Rolland's unmistakable imprint, fine-tuned in ten years of work, with the timeless dichotomy of black and white always in the background. Like concert pianist Claire-Marie Le Guay and opera singer Béatrice Uria Monzon, whose performances made the show's atmosphere absolutely unique, Stéphane Rolland's women are at once striking and touching. As powerful as the sharp cut of their long crepe sheath dresses with accented shoulders, and yet emotional in their distinctive details: a cape, a veil seemingly frozen in the instant the breeze ruffles it, shaking it free, or the strips of gilded leaves running along the shoulder or down the side of a dress.
The search for the perfect silhouette extends throughout the collection, just as Rolland's long gowns which flare at the ankles elongate the figure. Cuts are minimalistic, pared-down, yet far from austere, slit dresses and sheer effects adding a seductive allure to looks in which emotion is shaped by artistry. The foliage motif is a throwback to Calder's mobile sculptures, a corset's cleavage is decorated with an Art Deco design, a sculpted breastplate has a tribal totem feel. Jewellery is woven into the dresses, its powerful presence the mark of a strong personality.
For a loyal audience, which notably included Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, Stéphane Rolland has showcased a collection to be enjoyed "as a musical score, lyrical and searching for the essential, going back to its roots." It resonated like an opera tune in the couturier's mind, and found a harmonious echo in the show's setting and its grand finale, to the audience's rapturous applause.
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