Less than a year after his out-of-left-field dismissal as creative director at Cacharel, Cédric Charlier made his eponymous debut today on the Paris calendar. The force behind him is, not coincidentally, Cacharel's licensee Aeffe, whose head, Massimo Ferretti, made his unhappiness with the decision public then and is now putting money where his proverbial mouth is.
Despite the slow-start day, Charlier pulled a small but solid retail and editorial crowd. And he stood at the entrance politely greeting show-goers, thanking them for their attendance. Things were less polite on the runway, which defiantly lacked any residual sweetness from the designer's last gig. Instead, Charlier merged the classic Parisienne's tailored wardrobe with futuristic edge in zips, buttons, and flat-mirrored sunglasses—a collaboration with Cutler and Gross—in a bright copper that recalled industrial wiring. High turtlenecks in metallic shades rose from white collars, while sexy-smart shifts came in a shiny fabric that looked electrified. Call it bourgeois-meets-bot.
Charlier showed that he's capable of creating a beautiful coat and some very perfect-looking pants. But he wants his new vocabulary to focus on the body, he explained backstage, comparing his cutting to that of a scalpel. It's perhaps not so far off. What looked like a dress here was sometimes three pieces that were made to play together very nicely. There was ample experimentation to let you know that Charlier has more tricks up his sleeve. The minor shock of two paint-print dresses amid the navy-and-burgundy stream, for instance, felt sophisticated.
Many looks came with bags; there were five styles in the show, along with five styles of shoes. "For me it's really important thinking about the silhouette in a complete way," said Charlier. It also means that this solo mission—albeit with a strong production partner—is ready for merchandising liftoff in T minus four months.