The designer was out to challenge
‘Anarchy, contradictions, facing what doesn’t make me feel safe,’ said Roland Mouret backstage.
Rewind to the opening outfit – a fierce black and white striped coat, a sheer black vest, a body con skirt with a splash of yellow and flat point shoes bound at the ankle with thick black shiny PVC straps. This was a bold departure for Mouret with whom one might associate a more sensuous sexiness. The designer was out to challenge that long held view.
The collection had been conceived, he said, on the Greek island of Ithaca. He was on the beach happily listening to reggae when suddenly the music switched to techno – much to his chagrin – but the vivid contrast gave him the idea of duality, and the challenge of reimagining the Roland Mouret woman.
The first half of the show was a powerful mix of monochrome stripes and intense colour - vivid pink, lemon and green (the colour of the sea in Ithica?) sliced into graphic blocks. Black PVC added shine across the thigh of a curvy dress or to bare shoulders in the form of thick tape-like straps. There was a palette cleanser of strong white and black outfits, more in keeping with the Mouret we know – slick coats, slim trousers, sharply wrapped skirts and boxy jackets with contrast sleeves – before he re-entered with fresh, vivid prints and high contrast fuchsia or mint sheeny silk melded with fine black lace.
‘It was more of a street attitude,’ he said, adding: ‘It reminded me of these girls I used to see at the end of the 1980s when we went from Le Palace to Les Bain Douche.’ It’s doubtful those clubbers were wearing anything as expertly tailored as this.
Kudos to the designer who dared to push himself in a new direction - that takes courage - and it was exciting, challenging, new. But a part of me also yearned for the vintage Mouret years: the sheer audacious simplicity of his first show when Marc Almond grabbed a mike and sang a mournful song in a bare warehouse in the depths of East London, with just a handful of the most sophisticated and precisely draped cocktail dresses the fashion world had ever seen.