Marco Zanini at Rochas undoubtedly has a tough task ahead: reinventing a house know, really, for very little bar a pink ribboned fragrance named 'Femme' and the tenure of Olivier Theyskens. Rochas is a house without an archive per se - or at least without an archive that resonates with the contemporary consumer - and yet with a distinct signature established in the all-too-recent work of Theyskens. Zanini, it seems, hasn't quite found the correct approach - he garnered plaudits for his first collection, gently riffing on those references resurrected by Theyskens but in a less extreme fashion (call it Rochas-lite if you will) and last season pushing the envelope with a collection equally praised and vilified for mixing pretty-pretty touches of femininity with the intentionally ugly. Intentionally ugly is certainly a word that sprung to mind for his latest collection, drawing from geek-chic and 1960s cocktail parties in a clashing mix of luridly coloured cashmere cardigans, metallic cloque and stiff, boxy Jackie Kennedy suiting balanced on flat leopard booties or heels that splayed out like a toilet pedestal. It was a single-minded look, executed with conviction from teased and tousled beehive to those square sixties toes, but the question remained: where was Rochas?
Like it or not, Rochas is a house steeped in lace-veiled post-war romance. How was that reflected in this psychedelic freak-out of a collection, with double-face wool jersey suits and the intentionally tacky finishes of laminated 'faux leather' and peeling gold lamé Zanini used Bucol and Soie de France couture fabrics - perhaps his link to Rochas' haute heritage - but the bubbly lurex-flecked fabrics resembled moth-eaten two-a-penny vintage finds rather than Marcel Rochas' mid-century couture. There were flashes of the house's trademark femininity: rosettes like pinwheels in bright satin cropped up on those stuffy suits, while baby-doll flounced evening gowns, and one slip of a satin and velvet frock suspended from spaghetti straps, caught the right note of contemporary ease and couture past. Alas, these perfectly-pitched garments only served to emphasise how discordant the rest of the collection was with both Rochas past, and fashion's present. When the word 'ROCHAS' came writ large across the nape of little cashmere cardigans, it felt as if Zanini were desperately trying to remind us of the label we were watching. He needs to try harder next time.