Imagine a stir-crazy housewife going Scarlett O'Hara circa 1968 and tearing down her curtains to make herself a dress. Then imagine her chopping up her lounge carpet to cobble together a homey haute couture skirt-suit, or ripping apart her chesterfield to cobble together a button-back duster coat. It's a vision straight out of a John Waters film - or a Marco Zannini collection for the esteemed Parisian couture house of Rochas. For, just was Waters expressed his love for cinema by gently poking fun at its conventions, so Zannini's affection for Rochas takes on unexpected forms.
That's an especially verbose examination of an aesthetic that can probably be summed up with one word. Let's try frumpy. Or maybe even fugly, that much-loved (or at least much-used) post-modern portmanteau of 'ugly' with... well, an expletive that would certainly never be uttered to the Rochas woman. Certainly, Zannini makes an effort to steer his clothing towards the more unconventional side of beauty. Autumn/Winter 2012 sees an especially challenging mix of mottled hosiery, boat-like shoes and seventies upholstery prints. Those 'Chesterfield' coats did indeed come pimpled with buttons like a suburban settee. The finale dresses, gargantuan concoctions (some may say monstrosities) of printed faille, bubbled down the catwalk, giant swathes of volume sketched jerkily around the body like a scribbled child's drawing.
That all sounds terribly pejorative, especially describing a collection that felt so right. There is something about Zannini's clothing that is convincing - maybe it's the minor details that allow you to deconstruct the look and imagine a woman really wearing it. At this show, one couldn't help but notice the bonded linings in contrasting prints, the perky bows flapping at the back of calf-length shift-dresses, or the gradation of daub-pattern print across a three-piece suit to lengthen the figure. Because Zannini isn't retailing suck-and-jut result-wear doesn't mean he doesn't know how to flatter his woman. It's just that he choses to do it via the perfectly imperfect, the mid-calf pleated dirndl and cocooning knit sweater belted with crocodile, or a boiled-looking boucle suit pilled like crazy.
There's something endearing, enchanting about Zannini's clothing. Despite the couture puns and mid-century cross-referencing fashion is so in thrall to right now, these garments are unlike anything else we see on Paris' very many catwalks. In short, what Zannini creates at Rochas looks new, and exciting. It has a point of view. And there is, alas, very little fashion today we can genuinely say that about.