Marco Zanini made a big enough success of Rochas that he landed the Schiaparelli gig; he's designing couture for that revival brand now. Alessandro Dell'Acqua, the designer of the Milan label No. 21, was hired to fill Zanini's shoes at Rochas. He made his runway debut today with mixed success. Backstage, Dell'Acqua talked about the brand's DNA. "Rochas is very French," he said. But as a house known primarily for its fragrances, it doesn't have well-known codes the way, say, Dior does. The codes Dell'Acqua was elaborating on looked very much like his predecessor's. There were strong connections between Zanini's recent collections and Dell'Acqua's first, both in terms of silhouette (full, voluminous) and materials (velvets and brocades). Zanini, however, had a much lighter hand.

Dell'Acqua layered two winter coats on top of each other over wool dresses, accessorized many of the looks with heavy peplums, and misjudged the charm of patent leather. It was so rigid that one skirt made from the stuff looked like it could sashay its own way down the catwalk. Dense encrustations of crystals didn't do anything to lighten the overall impression. Dell'Acqua's instincts were better when it came to fabrics. There were a couple of truly lovely velvets. He also had a bit of on-trend fun with bat jacquards that he explained were inspired by vintage Rochas sunglasses. That said, he'll have to do some reassessing—and learn how to restrain his tendencies toward excess—before he begins work on the next collection.