Roland Mouret may have lived and worked in London for decades, but he is a Frenchman through and through. His hair is lacquered back like a caricature Parisian lothario, his accent is still as thick as fromage-festooned soup à l'oignon, he sometimes sports a pencil-thin moustache and he has a tendency to smoulder. That's pretty much the way he dresses his women too (sans moustaches) - a modern take on terribly traditional Gallic chic thats about as seductive as Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour, albeit not quite as kinky.
That was the basis for his Spring/Summer 2012 collection too - although we travelled out of the city and onto the beach for a twist on riviera dressing. Imagine those glamourous shots of Hollywood stars sunning themselves on the Côte d'Azur circa nineteen-thirty-something, shake them up with a little bondage, and dab on liberally. Just the thing to get you up and awake at ten in the morning.
There were hints of Surrealism - not only in the openwork eyes peeking out from skirt-hems, or giant leather flowers cascading as appliques down warbride wool dresses, but in the mood of light perversion behind many of Mouret's dresses. This season Roland liked his ladies trussed up a little bit. Sometimes, it was a bit much - cut-out elastoplast bodices have been done to death (and then some) by Monsieur Herve Leger and his successors, and although Mouret's looked terribly nice, they didn't change that well-worn formula. The trussing was more interesting when it went somewhere, namely when bands of grosgrain ribbon attached to dresses were used to manipulate the shape of the fabric around the form. A red knee-length crepe dress with defined waist and peaked shoulders, for example, was actually a masterpiece of deception: the tucks and twists of the ribbon giving that waist and shoulder with hardly any structure. Its a trick Vionnet once played, but it's got mileage. Another suit was actually a 'suit', a plung-front dress bloused and belted to resemble a jacket and form-hugging skirt with a frisson of movement in a flirty little flounce.
Movement is something Mouret hasn't gone in for in the past, but there was a new lightness to the clothes on offer - quite literally in the case of those eyes, and in bands of zig-zag ribbon suspending a strip of fabric around the hem of the skirt. More generally, skirts flowed into chic dirndls, or were pencil-cut to hug the body rather than strangle, the Revlon red opener with a cheeky buttock-pinching curve to the back being a great example. There were a few trouser-suits too, the best in brilliant blue with a filmy silk shirt and creamy overcoat thrown over the top, knotted with a wodge of ribbon. Tres, tres chic, bien sûr.