Tuesday 4 July 2023

Paris Haute Couture: A Resplendent Ode to Maria Callas: Stéphane Rolland's Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24 Collection

Inspired by Maria Callas and the glamour of 60's Paris, Stephane Rolland's haute couture collection was shown at the sumptuous Palais Garnier. Main photograph and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM 

The dazzling spectacle of French couturier Stéphane Rolland's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 collection at the historic Opéra Garnier was a highlight of Paris haute couture. A tribute to the legendary opera diva, Maria Callas, who would have celebrated her centenary this year, the show was an enchanting marriage of fashion, music and cinema, writes Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Maria Fernanda Candido wears a 
a magnificent red duchess satin gown 
by Stephane Rolland at the Paris show
Stéphane Rolland's latest haute couture collection was a homage to the elegance of Maria Callas. The sumptuous grandeur of the Paris Opéra Garnier was a suitably dramatic backdrop for the opulent runway show. 

Models walked up the broad, white marble staircases and along the mosaic floors of the high-ceilinged hallways, lined with guests. 

Rolland's sartorial artistry was a fitting complement to the majestic surroundings, while the soul-stirring voice of Maria Callas filled the air and was hauntingly beautiful.

The soundscape for the show was created from Callas both singing and speaking, adding depth and emotion to the spectacle. It was as if Callas herself had graced the runway, her spirit infused in the gowns' seams and silhouettes. Along with the resplendent gowns, the acoustics cast a spell over the audience.

The autumn/winter 2023-24 collection was a showcase of Rolland's artistry and ability to marry structure and fluidity, elegance and drama

A diaphanous black chiffon dress 
with a white gazar "flame" flaring 
dramatically from the shoulder. 
Stéphane Rolland's signature is his contemporary couture that bridges the worlds of art, architecture, and sculpture. Rolland says the work of modern architects and designers like Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid are inspirations. His ability to blend history, art, and fashion into a single narrative is a testament to his creative drive and vision.

This season, Rolland's collection extended to the silver screen, with French director Claude Lelouch capturing the magic at the Palais Garnier. The collaboration between Rolland and Lelouch was a meeting of two minds, a union of fashion and cinema. 

Lelouch plans to weave the footage he filmed at the runway show into his upcoming work, Finalement, which will debut at the Paris Opéra. 

The French designer's show transported the audience back to the glamorous Sixties, when Callas graced stages in Paris and around the world. Rolland was inspired by images from that era, capturing the essence of Parisian style and elegance. The collection, comprising 31 exquisite dresses, was an ode to not only Callas's dramatic presence but also the operas that defined her career. 

The silhouettes were minimalist yet graphic, exuding both boldness and delicacy. Rolland used a restricted but dramatic palette with black and white gowns mixed with striking dashes of brilliant red and gold. The couturier is a master of creating arresting forms and silhouettes with rich yet subtle fabrics. He wanted the collection to capture the essence of the glamourous Parisian mid-century aesthetic.

The French designer's signature is his contemporary couture, melding art, architecture, and sculpture

All in brilliant white, a long silk dress
with a geometric cape and a short jacket 
with hand-made porcelain petals.
One of the outstanding designs was a long, white silk dress with a geometrical cape embroidered with crystals and porcelain petals in white wool gazar. Another was a short white jacket with hand-carved porcelain petals that looked three dimensional and was worn with a silk crepe skirt (see at left). 
The striking, coral-red "Zeffirelli" dress in embossed crepe was worn with a leather hood shaped like golden tresses. A diaphanous and revealing black chiffon gown was contrasted with a 'flame' of white gazar on the shoulder and diamond belt. 

Other highlights include the red duchess satin "Tosca" dress worn by Maria Fernando Candido and a black silk velvet openwork gown with shimmering gazar ties at the back. The "Traviata" dress with its black velvet corset and sculptural skirt in white organza embroidered with ruby crystals was particularly alluring.  The "Norma" finale was all in white chiffon with a leather acanthus leaf scrolling across the bodice in patinated leather. 

Stéphane Rolland's modern interpretation of couture, rooted in his passion for art, sculpture, and photography, is captivating. From his early beginnings to launching his haute couture house, Rolland's journey has been one of exploring innovation while still creating beautiful, wearable gowns.

The show transported the audience back to the glamorous Sixties, when Callas graced the stage in Paris 

A coral-red crepe gown worn 
with a scintillating gilded 
leather head dress.
Raised in various corners of the world, including Argentina, Paraguay, and the French West Indies, Rolland's talent was recognized early on in Paris when he was hired by none other than Cristóbal Balenciaga at the tender age of twenty years old. 

Following a decade-long stint at Jean-Louis Scherrer, Rolland took the leap and established his haute couture maison in 2007. Since then, he has built a reputation as a pioneering couturier, catering to a clientele ranging from royalty to celebrities in film and music. 

An official member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Rolland still continues to push boundaries and explore new ideas.

This autumn/winter 2023-24 collection was a showcase of Rolland's artistry and ability to marry structure and fluidity, elegance and drama. 

In his world, fashion is not just clothing but has the ability to enthrall and take us to another world.

See highlights from Stephane Rolland's AW23/24 haute couture collection at the Paris Opera

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