This was a strong collection for Roland Mouret. Autumn/Winter is always an opportunity for a brand to dig deep, and offer a more convincing take on luxury. This label grabbed this opportunity with both hands. A timely offering on historic dress, with this collection Mouret set out to propose his vision of ‘21st century Victoriana.’ The show notes were also talking about wild spirits - such as Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks – as well as an element of rive gauche, and Saint Germain Des Pres. The last two references seemed a bit of a compromise on the integrity of the narrative. One can understand this label trying to market itself as a Parisian brand – but this was very much an English story.
The collection opened up with an undulating latticed appliqué, which appeared on a velvet key-hole dress. This led into an interesting design enquiry around the concept of peek-a-boo, via winks of skin, appearing at the tops of arms, and black crochet transparencies. Certainly a way to engage with the more sensual side of Victoriana – it taps into a time when even the slightest glimpse of a women’s skin below the shoulder line was a potentially erotic moment. Everyone remembers that scene in The Piano when Harvey Kartel notices Holly hunter has a snag in her tights. A ten-minute examination by Kartel ensued, accompanied by exhilarating Michael Nyman score.
We’ve seen a lot of period references over the last few weeks. This collection ended up also having a medieval period vibe about it – which was great, as one note historical references can feel a little literal. Velvet in a rich red added a much-needed pop to the collection. There was a red devoré panelled dress, which outlined the construction of Mouret’s infamous Galaxy dress. This was a smart idea. On another dress, a drawstring pelmet effect ran around the waistline and down the side of one leg – which worked really well too. Floral prints evoked a gothic stained glass window. Meanwhile, sheer panelled sleeves with folkloric motifs looked almost like a trompe l’oeil sleeve of tattoos. It wasn’t naff, it felt quite craftsy and current. Suddenly, a potion purple trench arrived - a powerful addition to the collection.
A chinoiserie section with piping, key-hole tops and florals was complete with the addition of an opium red long coat. Some of the hexagon pieces looked a little bit hard and graphic – and appeared slightly dated. It reminded one of Fendi five years ago. This doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t sell well in store. And that’s what’s so great about this brand; there is a real understanding of what their customer is going to love wearing.