Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Elegant Nomad: Couturier Stéphane Rolland's New Rhythm

Stéphane Rolland's AW18/19 couture collection on stage at Radio France in Paris. Cover and main picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
French couturier Stéphane Rolland's uplifting new haute couture show was held at Radio France in Paris with live percussionists. Inspired by the romance of the Silk Road and the reality of our contemporary peripatetic lives, the Autumn/Winter 2018/19 collection was full of both billowing silhouettes and sleek, figure-hugging outfits evoking the modern urban nomad. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Voluminous gowns in rich silks
 
THE rousing sound of six percussionists playing vigorously above the stage created an exciting and lively backdrop to couturier Stéphane Rolland's latest couture collection in Paris.
 
Not for him a nondescript and soulless white runway with models marching down the centre to an electronic beat. Wearing billowing capes and richly embroidered gowns, models criss-crossed the steps of the famous Studio104 at Radio France, creating beautiful compositions of moving figures in chiaroscuro in time to the music.

This Autumn/Winter 2018/19 collection also hinted at spring with feather-light taffeta ballgowns, floating across the stage. "We've worked very hard on this show," Stéphane Rolland says backstage. "There are many different artists involved and it's been so wonderful to put together and collaborate with musicians at the Radio France orchestra, which usually performs all over the world but managed to make itself available." The couturier was inspired by travel from the Silk Road to Europe and the Middle East and the collection has a dramatic play of drapery and volume suggesting billowing capes blowing in the breeze as travellers cross a mountain pass or the dunes of a desert .

Skirts are slit the to thigh to reveal contrasting
pants in burgundy or cream
"I worked a lot on generous volumes," he explains. "You know when you’re in the desert, and you drape yourself, to protect yourself from the heat and cold."

Reflecting the travel of another age on horseback he also has tightly-fitting jodhpurs as part of the collection.

"These were all images in my head, from the Silk Road, from Asia, through Europe, Eastern Europe to the Middle East, and the whole mix, because what this collection tells us is that we are all nomads today."

"What this collection tells us is that we are all nomads today"

Wearing a beautifully draped white top and cape with a long, straight skirt the first model emerges from the darkness of the stage to the sounds of the percussionists. To the beat of drums, another appears with a tailored but wonderfully fluid dark suit with wide lapels. Crossing the wooden stairs, with sleek hair pulled back into a long pony tail, a tall girl steps down in a creamy-white column of a dress with a flowing, one-sleeved camel jacket belted at the waist with a neat, boxy bag attached.

Gleaming black silk dresses with form-fitting
necks and shoulders contrasted with long,
embroidered cashmere coats
Mr Rolland says he wanted to create a collection that was both wearable and opulent using richly-textured materials. The palette ranges from subtle earthy shades in cream and camel to dark red and gleaming blacks. Fluid, silk pantsuits and graceful jackets are mixed with long coats and slender, embroidered trousers. One of the key accessories was the neat case-clutch made by leather craftsman Philippe Martial worn as a belt and a cuff.

The sense of movement and richness in the collection is enhanced by capacious gowns and coats (see at left) in black and white. A floor length yet simple dress is enlivened with sparkling embroidered crystals and a hooded cape fluttering behind. An evening dress in pale sand with a train attached from the shoulders is decorated with silky-black, three-dimensional flowers and a wide collar embellished with glimmering jewels ~ conjuring up the romance of another age yet with a contemporary twist.

Mr Rolland creates new forms, merging tops, capes, trousers and skirts into one fluent, cohesive design. Loose white trousers are worn with a stylish combined top and coat with puffed and ruched sleeves. Two of the standouts pieces are a voluminous, tobacco-hued mohair coat with billowing sleeves and high neck embellished with mother of pearl (see below) and a figure-hugging top covered in glinting jewels and draped across one shoulder with a long train.

Dramatic plays of drapery and volume suggest billowing capes blowing in the breeze

Figure-hugging leather slit to the navel at the front
and cut low at the back 
Providing a contrast to the pale, flowing pieces are slim, leather pantsuits with a slit to the navel at the front and a surprisingly low cut back, finished with a silken train (see at left).

The designer likes to play with transparency and sculptural forms and this was highlighted by a long, white gown covered in a dynamic, all-over pattern and completed with a floating train. Contrasting with the cream and camel tones of the first pieces to come on to the stage in Paris were a deep burgundy pantsuit and a finely pleated top with large sleeves and a sleek evening gown with long side splits and sparkling embroidery around the shoulders and neck.

One of the most evocative creations of Stéphane Rolland's couture collection is a pale grey silk blouse with wide, pleated sleeves and the waist drawn tight with a flowing skirt behind worn with crystal encrusted form-fitting pants (see main picture above). A black coat dress with one sleeve is wonderfully tailored with a contrast of sparkle from long, tight trousers. A silken, black evening gown is enlivened with a transparent front panel and long splits and a jewelled collar and large, fabric flower floating on one shoulder.

A fluid, cream skirt, cape and top that appears
to merge into on flowing form. The black short top
is finished with wide camel lapels
Mr Rolland's skill as a couturier is exemplified by his creation of new forms, like the black, split skirt worn with a full-sleeved top with wide camel lapels and a cream confection that effortlessly blends cape, sleeve, top and skirt (see at right).

Closing the Paris show were summery sprites emerging from the long chrysalis of winter wearing frothy, translucent ball gowns in taffeta with puffed sleeves (see cover picture).

Dotted with glinting crystals, the final gown was completed with a coronet by jeweller Maison Boghossian who collaborates with Stéphane Rolland on his haute couture collections.

Closing the show were summery sprites emerging from the long chrysalis of winter wearing frothy, translucent gowns

Couturier Stéphane Rolland at the finale of his
AW18/19 show in Paris
The artistry of Stéphane Rolland work has been built on a solid foundation. The designer worked at Balenciaga in his early twenties as creative director of menswear and by the time he was 24 years old he had already launched his own prêt-à-porter business.
He pursued this for six years before becoming artistic director of a haute couture fashion house for a decade. Mr Rolland has also worked as a costume designer and was nominated twice for the prestigious Molière awards. Eleven years ago, he presented his first couture collection under his own name. Today, he is one of only fourteen fashion designers who are full members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris.

See more highlights from the show below or tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
 Closing the Paris show were summery sprites emerging from the long chrysalis of winter wearing frothy, translucent ball gowns in taffeta with puffed sleeves.
"We've worked very hard on this show," Stéphane Rolland says backstage. "There are lot of different artists and it's been so wonderful to put together and collaborate with musicians at the Radio France orchestra."
Crossing the wooden stairs, with sleek hair pulled back into a long pony tail, a tall girl ascends the wooden stairs in a creamy- white column of a dress with a flowing, one-sleeved camel jacket belted at the waist with a neat, boxy bag attached. 
  An evening dress in pale sand with a train decorated with silky black three-dimensional flowers and a wide collar embellished with glimmering jewels. A floor length, simple gown is enhanced with sparkling embroidered crystals and a hooded cape fluttering behind.
On of the standout pieces, a voluminous, tobacco-hued mohair coat with billowing sleeves and high neck embellished with mother of pearl.
One of the key accessories was the neat case-clutch made by leather craftsman Philippe Martial worn as a belt and a cuff.
 "I worked a lot on generous volumes, " the designer explains. "You know when you’re in the desert, and you drape yourself, to protect yourself from the heat and cold."
Contrasting with first pieces to come on to the stage in Paris, were fluid pantsuits in deep burgundy and white.
 
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