It says a lot about Roland Mouret as a designer that you can look at an origami-folded cap sleeve on a dress and think, Well, that’s very Roland. In fact, “that’s very Roland” is the constant refrain when it comes to his spring 2023 collection, which gets further zip and zing from its color palette, running from teal to candy pink to scarlet to tangerine. He is working with the Mouret-isms he’s been developing and drawing on since the dawn of the 2000s, back when he was wielding pinking shears directly into fabric to conjure up clothing, not to mention his later mega-success with the Galaxy, the dress that sculpted the world: folds and draping across the bust or upper arm or shoulder, reverse seaming, the precision of a high neckline that fans out in the most elegant yet coolest of fashion. They’re all here, looking as good as ever.
And yet different too. These days, Mouret is giving one of those signature flourishes of his (a flourish always intended to make something more flattering for the wearer) per dress, jumpsuit, or evening showstopper. Yet while it reduces the amount of design detail, it’s not reductive in effect: The impact is still there. Mouret is now taking a different approach to designing, borne out of his newish business arrangement with Self-Portrait designer Han Chong and his nascent group S.P. Collection. “‘Can you make it more pure?’” Mouret said he asked himself during the creation process. “Let’s choose one detail and just go with that.”
That approach certainly takes what Mouret does to a different place price-wise, but it’s also a chance to make what he does connect with a whole new generation; younger women who are more likely to be judging the success of what they’re wearing by how it looks in the two-dimensional world of social media, not seeing it in a fitting room at every angle in a three-way mirror. You could of course say that’s Mouret’s real signature: the ability to take what he had done, and what he knows, and move it forward so it keeps pace with the times. There has never been a whole lot of nostalgia with him, but there is always plenty of philosophical thinking and pragmatic understanding about where fashion is and, ergo, what people might be needing and expecting from it.
So he is using sparkly surface adornments for the first time, sprinkling tiny diamanté stones over short bustier dresses, say, or adding a deep scoop neckline that he likens to a smile—things that came about because he was challenging himself to think what Mouret the man can do with Mouret the label next. It’s an acknowledgment of the way fashion has been democratizing itself in favor of those who are wearing it. Unsurprisingly, he also has a take on the return of the sexy dress, which slinked its way along many a Milan runway. There are plenty of them in his collection, but the real take here is why he thinks it’s enjoying such a resurgence: that women are intent on depicting their bodies and physicality entirely on their own terms. “It’s not designers dictating it,” says Mouret. “It’s women saying, ‘This is how I want to look—respect that.’”
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