Now is not the most opportune moment to resurrect a fashion company, for obvious reasons, but Marco Zanini is giving it a go at Rochas. Supporting him in that endeavor is the Italian manufacturer Gibo, which is now producing the line with plans to keep prices below traditional designer levels. Inspired in equal measure by the French couture house's long history and nouvelle vague films—specifically the Jean-Luc Godard heroine Anna Karina—Zanini produced a collection, built upon the foundation of the silk slip, that stood quite apart from the season's prevailing eighties mood. The clothes were presented installation-style at an art gallery in the Marais, which allowed for up-close examination of the handmade details and witty touches that the designer hopes will become a brand hallmark.
As you entered, you were greeted by gauzy tulle dresses backlit to expose their beading, pintucking, and sequins, all of which were done by hand. Inside, a drop-waist number, a navy skirtsuit, a hand-knit heavy gauge silk dress, and other looks were positioned on mannequins around a mirrored centerpiece that allowed for glimpses of the surprises in back: a transparent chiffon illusion neckline, a pair of zippers behind the hips to create a smooth waistline. Other touches—the crochet silk lace at the hem of pleated skirt linings, ribbons inset into the linings of menswear blazers, intarsia Rochas logos on the inside of cashmere cardigan pockets—are details intended for only the wearer to enjoy.
It was interesting how different a look this was from the one Olivier Theyskens created for Rochas. While still delicate, Zanini's version is much more pared down—intriguingly, the restraint of the work recalls what he briefly did at Halston two seasons ago. "This is simplicity in French," he said. It's an approach that has created a collection of pieces that feel quite right for this time. All in all, a promising start.