Thursday, 26 January 2023

All that Glitters is Gold: Stephane Rolland's Spring/Summer 2023 Haute Couture Collection

    The gilded splendour of Stephane Rolland's SS23 haute couture show in Paris. Cover picture by Elli Ioannou. Main picture (above) by Matthew Fisher.
French couturier Stephane Rolland's Spring/Summer 2023 haute couture collection, presented in Paris, is his most spectacular yet, showcasing both his creativity and artistry as a designer, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Reporting by Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou, Matthew Fisher and Nathan Geary

French couturier Stephane Rolland
is touched by the appreciative
audience at the show finale. 
Photograph: Nathan Geary
"BRAVO, BRAVO," the guests called as they rose to their feet in a standing ovation at the finale of French couturier Stephane Rolland's thrilling haute couture show in Paris, a rare accolade from a Parisian fashion week audience. 

The music was exhilarating and Rolland's creations coming down the gilded runway at the Théâtre de Chaillot were equally dramatic. All of the designer's skills as a couturier were on display with the sculptural gowns a tour-de-force of French savoir faire.

The crescendo of the show was the bride emerging on to the runway in a gleaming golden cloqué lamé creation, a fittingly striking last look. Embellished with Marajoara sculptures, the design was inspired by a small, gilded Madonna sculpture, called Our Lady of Aparecida housed in a colossal basilica (45,000 people can be accommodated), in São Paulo, Brazil.

The theme of Stephane Rolland's collection was initially inspired by Marcel Camus' 1959 Brazilian film, Black Orpheus. A modern adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a favela in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. The film went on to win the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival plus the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 

Stephane Rolland also planned his show like a film or play in three visual acts, with the first part an ode to the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the music of Rio de Janeiro's bossa nova. Black Orpheus is also famous for its soundtrack by the Brazilians composers Antônio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá, whose works became classics of bossa nova.

All of the designer's skills as a couturier were on display with the sculptural gowns a tour de force of French savoir faire.

Sculptural shapes and emroidered
gemstones are favoured motifs. 
Photograph:Nathan Geary
The couturier's signature minimalism of crisp silhouettes and fluid fabrics brings a strong contemporary ethos to the collection. The richness and colour of this season's Brazilian inspiration is provided by Rolland's brilliant use of gemstones, embroidering them into his designs. 

He created glistening collars of lapis lazuli, sparkling amethysts, deep green malachite, translucent jade and polished wood.  No other couturier works with gemstones, making them an integral part of their designs as much as Stephane Rolland ~ and this makes his work particularly rich and layered.

The short Sambadrome dress in white gazar is embroidered with glistening jade (see above) opens like petals around the head and finishes with swirling curves above the thighs. Gazar is a wonderfully sculptural silk organza that was developed by couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga with a Swiss textile firm in the 1960s. Stepane Rolland worked at the famous maison in his early twenties soon becoming its youngest artistic director. 

In the second part of his current collection, Rolland looks to Amazonian art with column-like totem dresses in jersey and crepe embroidered with symbols and shimmering mirrors. Highlights of this series include a long, coffee-brown jersey and gazar dress with Rolland's signature three dimensional sculptural embellishments, this time with a “Brasilia” style embroidery created in lacquer and white jersey.

Another standout was a diaphanous gown in emerald chiffon with a deep decolletage embroidered with malachite and jade. Gemstones were also a feature of the jersey jumpsuit embroidered with luminous lapis lazuli. Large, eye-catching cuffs added to the drama along with stem-like, sparkling crystal earrings.

Stephane Rolland's signature minimalism with crisp silhouettes and fluid fabrics brings a strong contemporary ethos to the collection. 

Glimmering gold was the theme
of the last 'act' of the collection. 
Photograph: Elli Ioannou
In the third act of the show, the designer harks back to the Black Orpheus film and the conquistadors, with a symbolic rising sun at end of the runway. The conquistadors, the Spanish and Portuguese explorers who travelled to the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries, were in search of gold. Stephane Rolland uses all of these themes and the baroque Bahia churches as inspiration to create golden gowns as a splendid finale.

A short, asymmetrical toga dress in white gazar embroidered with golden pebbles (another of his favourite motifs) contrasts with the formality of a hooded dress in golden lamé crepe embroidered with amethysts. 

The comfort and quirkiness of a sweater dress in stretchy white chiffon and an embroidered jacket with a gilded metal "fur" is mixed with a long cut-out dress in golden lamé gazar embroidered with “Marajoara” motives in golden mirror and crystal. 

The collection is an engaging and often enthralling insight into the passions, technical skill and creative vision of a couturier at the height of his powers. 

See below highlights and details of the Stephane Rolland SS23 collection in Paris. 

Lustrous beaten gold earrings make a striking counterpoint to this black gazar tuxedo dress. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Long and elegant asymmetrical wrapped dress in coffee-hued crepe. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Sundress in golden lame cotton voile with Marajoara back jewel. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Striking jumpsuit in black gazar. Photograph; Elli Ioannou    
Long gold lame gazar tunic dress with golden metal neck jewel. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Short Sambadrome dress in white gazar embroidered with jade. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

On the golden runway, the transparent back of an emerald chiffon gown. Photograph: Nathan Geary

Long, Baiana sculptural dress in white jersey and gazar. Photograph: Matthew Fisher 

The audience awaits the opening of Stephane Rolland's haute couture show. Photograph: Nathan Geary  

Cut-out gold lame gown embroidered with Majahoara motifs in golden mirrors and crystal. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Curvilinear black gazar short dress. Photograph: Matthew Fisher

Fluid coffee-coloured jersey creation with embroidered lapis lazuli. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Long wrapped dress with an asymmetrical cape in white crepe with sculptural white jersey breastplate. Photograph: Matthew Fisher

The guests at the Theatre de Chaillot in Paris for the Stephane Rolland couture show. Photograph: Nathan Geary 

Emerald green chiffon gown embroidered with malachite and jade. Photograph: Nathan Geary
Tuxedo dress in white gazar with shoulder sculpture in white jersey and luminous gemstone cuffs. Photograph: Matthew Fisher 

Embroidered with golden pebbles, this asymmetrical, white toga dress is made from white gazar. Photograph: Matthew Fisher

Stretchy chiffon sweater dress worn with a metallic "fur" jacket. Photograph: Elli Ioannou 

Shimmering golden lame crepe hooded dress embroidered with amethysts. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

The spectacular finale. Photograph: Nathan Geary

The bride, inspired by Our Lady of Aparacida, in golden cloque lame embellished with Marajoara sculptures. Photograph: Nathan Geary

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Monday, 23 January 2023

Paris Haute Couture: Rahul Mishra's Luminous Spring-Summer 2023 Collection

Planets, moons, stars and the Milky Way embellished this gown in Rahul Mishra's new 'Cosmos' haute couture collection in Paris. Cover and main picture by Elli Ioannou

The celestial embroidery and exuberant silhouettes of Rahul Mishra's luminous collections make them a standout during Paris haute couture week. This Spring/Summer 2023 season, the cosmos inspired his new work, and he sent an array of glimmering, transcendent gowns down the runway, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou 

A regal yet whimsical creation from
Rahul Mishra's Paris SS23 show, in the 
atmospheric ballroom of the historic
Westin Paris ~ Vendome hotel. 
RAHUL MISHRA'S sumptuous new haute couture collection is an evocative expression of his philosophy of design. 
Called "Cosmos", the show featured handsomely embroidered designs that shimmered and sparkled, created by the skilled artisans working at his ateliers near India’s capital city of New Delhi. 

The show was held in the magnificent baroque ballroom of the Westin Paris - Vendôme, a historic hotel in the rue de Castiglione on the corner of the rue de Rivoli, facing the Tuileries Garden. Designed by Charles Garnier's son-in-law Henri Blondel, it opened in 1878 and was the largest and most luxurious hotel in Paris. The ballroom with its painted ceilings and enormous gilded chandeliers provided the perfect backdrop to Mishra's opulent designs.

Although Rahul Mishra has now shown for many seasons in Paris, this couture collection is the most exuberant and unabashedly beautiful. The designer looks to the meaning of "cosmos" ~ both the universe out there and the one inside our minds. He expresses these ideas in the exquisitely rendered details of planets, moons, stars, jellyfish, birds, snails, flowers and even cityscapes in his designs.  

Called 'Cosmos', the show featured handsomely embroidered designs that shimmered and sparkled, created by the designer's skilled artisans

This glimmering and diaphanous design
with its voluminous proportions, brilliant 
colour and fluidity was a highlight. 
of the show. 
"We, as humans, lie at a fascinating junction between two infinite worlds. Looking outwards, we face the boundless, ever-expanding interstellar space and inwards, we preserve the illimitable, all-containing human mind. 

"Like a thin membrane between two identical planes, not separating but not combining them either, our physical bodies are embraced by realities that are vast and convoluted," the designer ponders in the show notes. 

Inspired by the Sanskrit statement 'Aham Brahmasmi', I am the cosmos, Mishra has tried to express philosophical ideas throughout the collection. He explores the scale of the universe, from the enormity of galaxies and oceans to the tininess of a ladybug, each perspective offering a different understanding of the world. The glimmering gold of the sequined pieces suggest the "the sunken city of Atlantis, gleaming in gold over a vivid coral reef."

When Rahul Mishra won the International Woolmark Prize in 2014 at Milan Fashion Week ~ a prestigious award won by iconic designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani ~ it helped launch him into Europe. In that formative year, the French Fashion Federation, also incorporated his collection onto the Paris ready-to-wear schedule. Six years later, he became the first Indian to be included among the official Paris haute couture shows.

Looking outwards, we face the boundless, ever-expanding interstellar space and inwards, we preserve the illimitable, all-containing human mind." 
The flower-like hues and shapes 
added to the sense of the 
celebration of the natural 
world in the collection. 
And the French capital has, he says, been a key part in developing both his creative career and his business. Mishra wants his work to be on the global stage and is planning to expand his reach. This year, a new ready-to-wear collection will be launched plus there will be the opening of a first boutique in London.  

In one sense, his achievements seem a long way from his childhood growing up in a small Indian village, yet he has incorporated his youthful love of nature and the work of local artisans into his work. And Gandhi's philosophy and humanity is key to how Mishra views the world and tries to live his life.   

While he did his undergraduate university studies in physics, he ended up going on to study at the National Institute of Design, winning best student of the year in 2005. Four years later he was in Milan, studying at the Istituto Marangoni on a scholarship, beginning on the path that set him on the route to Paris and his stellar career. 

In this new "Cosmos" collection, Mishra has melded the best of the artisanal work, philosophy and textiles of his home country with the burgeoning creativity and savoir faire of Parisian fashion design.  

 Highlights from the Rahul Mishra SS23 Haute Couture Show 

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