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Rochas: Poise with a Capital P

Godfrey Deeny
March 02nd, 2011 @ 3:20 PM - Paris

Poise, a word of Latin origin meaning to have substance or weight, though in the sense not of mass but of demonstrating a certain grace and refinement, seems the right term to describe the latest show by Rochas.

Poise was the overriding mood of the classy fall 2011 collection staged on Wednesday, March 2, in Paris. And poise because this was an assured collection by a designer intent on creating a new take on what it means to be chic today.

"I looked up Google for the word chic. It's a huge term in fashion, and I did not like any of the definitions I found, and the images of chic on Google were even worse, horrible. So I thought let's make a collection without any references, just an attempt to create a new sense of what is chic," explained Marco Zanini, the Italian who has been artistic direction of Rochas for five seasons.

So rather than rifling through Rochas' archives and capturing its alleged DNA - though what that might be is far from clear - Zanini began with a carte blanche. He opened with crisp suits or sleek short skirts coupled with cashmere tanks featuring mini graphic logos, with models enjoying the added jaunty nonchalance of Russian astrakhan chapka hats. He layered silk ribbons into some elegant flowing skirts and dresses; he cut with great precision double face cashmere coats with '50s just too large for the shoulder volumes.

A favorite look was a midnight blue jacquard cocktail that evoked the memory of Audrey Hepburn's still and certain beauty. It was a simple yet perfect outfit. Presented in a construction site deep in the bowels of the experimental Palais de Tokyo museum, the show had a charmingly understated elan. Above all it had poise, which in the soberest season in memory in Europe seemed the ideal quality for next autumn.

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