Printed abstract flames on gold and metallic black lamé: It’s not a fashion box one would expect to see checked from Rochas, the nearly 100 year old label known for a more refined and traditional realization of pret-a-porter. But that’s just what Charles de Vilmorin — Rochas’ new, 24-year old Creative Director — has deployed, along with a cascade of oversized frills, painterly tablescape motifs and statement-making block heels. In particular, see —at his debut runway show and second collection for the house (Spring – Summer 2022) —a ruched mini dress in that aforementioned graphic heat. Rochas, remixed, has arrived.
De Vilmorin’s own visual approach is in an ebullient verve. Expressive, illustrated, energized by colour and charisma and the openness of the world ahead of you when you’re only in your early 20’s; These are de Vilmorin’s codes, which were quickly set after he launched his namesake line in April, 2020. And it’s easy to understand his appeal both on and off the catwalk. When he showed at the Haute Couture in early 2021, with backing from Jean Paul Gaultier, de Vilmorin’s naif butterfly and human body drawings garnered charmed buzz within fashion circles. His penchant for a gesture of the hand recalls the visual splash of Nikki de Saint Phalle, even Matisse. And, he kind of looks like a young Yves Saint Laurent.
Until now, though, Rochas’ woman has been very different from the de Vilmorin girl. The designer is more than up for combining the former’s legacy and the latter’s novelty.
“My first feeling was really about honoring the familial, historical and sensitive energy of Rochas,” de Vilmorin told the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode one day before his runway show. “It is an old brand, and I mean this in a good way. It is classic. I’m tapping into this, and also thinking about the Rochas’ perfume, Femme, and how someone today might wear it.”
“But,” he continues, “the intent is to make this woman very modern and it’s very important for me to have very fresh energy for this new story. It’s more artistic.”
How exactly does he see himself bridging the gap?
“I draw all the fabric prints. I think this is the red line between my brand and Rochas, the motifs. And so, we can see this is ‘my’ touch, but in a different amount, a different volume.”
Fueled by those lovely lamé flames, de Vilmorin concludes: “The goal is to get Rochas to a state where it’s this amazing dream universe.” He’s well on his way.