One of the more surprising decisions in the past months' designer merry-go-round was the ousting of Cédric Charlier from Cacharel; he was replaced by unknown designers Ling Liu and Dawei Sun. (They're Chinese natives who met at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture.) By both retail and editorial accounts, Charlier was doing fine work. And as reported in WWD, the decision made by Cacharel president Jean Bousquet didn't sit well with Massimo Ferretti, head of the French brand's licensee, Aeffe—perhaps less than auspicious circumstances for Liu and Sun's debut today.
Backstage before the show, Liu and Sun came up with the correct answer to what Cacharel meant to them. "It's an incredible brand, very French," said Sun, through a translator. "It's synonymous with young contemporary women in France." And on the runway, they hit all the correct notes. They began with sweet little satin tops and shorts, fresh-scrubbed cotton dresses, boxy jackets, and A-line skirts. Between them Liu and Sun have worked at Balenciaga, YSL, and John Galliano. Their twist on the look in origami draping and all sorts of deceptively simple insets and cutouts showed technical prowess; Liu and Sun are no amateurs. They soon segued from icy blues to warmer oranges and finally into florals, including one that echoed the house's classic micro version.
The parts were all there, but somehow they didn't seem to firm up into a young, energetic, and, well, fun whole. You got the sense that boxes were being ticked off. Perhaps as Liu and Sun settle into their post, they'll discover the joyful je ne sais quoi that should be part of Cacharel's DNA. Until then, this collection will still ably fill the same racks it's occupied for the past few seasons, but it remains to be seen if it will fly off them.