"Awkward" isn't often courted in fashion. But Marco Zanini has made it something of a trademark at Rochas. Oddly enough, that's a compliment. Zanini's inspirations can veer season to season, but his work is always shot through with a mordant wit and an almost childlike ingenuousness that can make his compatriots in Serious Fashion Design seem humorless and harrumphing. There are hits and misses at Rochas, as at any label, but you can usually spot a Zanini piece a mile off.
For Fall, the designer riffed on the idea of "chic." It made for one of his most urbane outings to date—it looked ready to walk off the runway. For Resort, he returned to more of the country-mouse styling of his Spring '11 show. Naïveté was the word he used to describe this new collection. "Something cheerful but not girly," he said, ruing that "the smile is not cool in fashion." Cool or not, he'd instructed his lookbook model to grin.
Zanini offered plenty of pieces to turn frowns upside-down. Some were fun. Last season, he hid a little boy and girl in some of his prints; here, he pulled them out and appliquéd them on lightweight knits as mini mascots. Structured day dresses came in gold brocade (one of the designer's signatures) and stone-washed, double-faced satin (to up the texture and mute the shine), continuing the fabric play that's key to Zanini's work.
Some pieces, however, were awkward. A series of back-tying dresses in chiné taffeta were slightly reminiscent of hospital gowns. Worn with matching, printed pants (both were in an abstract flower-petal motif) and finished off with wood-soled clogs (think Dr. Scholl's), they made for a look that would be hard to hit the office in. And it may be that not every woman wants to think Dr. Scholl's when getting ready for work. But for every tricky editorial-ready piece, there was a rack behind with impeccably cut jackets and dresses that need no apology at all.