It's often difficult to really understand what Marco Zanini wants us to think of Rochas, leaping from theme to theme and decade to decade with seeming abandon, winning fans one season and jettisoning their favour the next. It doesn't feel like trend-hopping, and it doesn't feel like Zanini is floundering, but there has been, to put it bluntly, something of a schizophrenia to his collections for the house.
His latest S/S 2011 collection is the perfect case study. No further riffing on or refinement of the Mrs Robinson sexy Sixties secretary feel of A/W 2010: Zanini was off on another tangent, throwing out references to Bucol archive prints, unpronounceable Swedish towns and Lemarié couture corsages in a collection that threw together references to Vionnet and Dior's New Look, styled them with doddering granny wool socks and warbride platforms, and sent them out under many a Babooshka printed headscarf for good measure.
It managed to overwhelm and underwhelm simultaneously - and credit where credit's due, that's an achievement. But on analysis, there was something to suit many tastes - most people managed to rave about one thing, whether that was the strident peony-splashed silk pyjamas, the Vertès-style hand-scrawled prints (actually created by Swedish artist Slotts Barbro) or the long evening gowns in vintage-look slipper-satin.
But the fundamental question Zanini needs to ask is - what does Rochas really stand for? My bet is flirty, feminine eveningwear - just think of the perfume, Madame Rochas, knotted up in pink silk and cobweb lace like a slither of French underwear. Zanini caught that in the final segment of the show, with liquid satin gowns bias-cut and dribbling across the body. The best came in stocking-fine black mesh, slithering against the figure or frothed out into short drop-waist dance frocks and recalling his universally loved first presentation for the label. They are evidently what Zanini and Rochas really do well. It would be great to see them as the focus rather than just the finale.