Roland Mouret MR SS12

The show notes for Roland Mouret’s debut menswear runway show cut straight to the point: his iconic womenswear silhouette revolves around the contours of the female waist, but his menswear is all about shoulders. Not that the designer was proposing an inflated, power-dressing silhouette, but that the idea of masculinity he’s explored over the past few seasons is one that, as he put it backstage at the Westin’s ornate Salon Napoleon, literally depends on the shoulder blade.

And that tension generated a quietly dramatic silhouette, evocative both of Forties film noir and Eighties new romanticism, both of which Mouret has referenced throughout his career – and which in the case of his menswear designs has translated into a resonant sense of strength and masculine elegance. So tautly cut blousons, two-button blazers and belted safari jackets created a strongly controlled upper body profile, breaking into the relaxed sweep of broadly pleated, wide-legged trousers.

There were traces of both sides of the Channel at play in the detail references, from the distinctive Britishness of Lock & Co hats and Cheaney shoes to the easy modernism of Riviera twinsets and spread collars, in a swathe of softly toned blues, tobaccos, mints and sands. And that element of outsider-ness, of Mouret’s position between French and British cultures and histories, fed into our conversation backstage after the show. Elaborating on the enduring relevance of the mid-century aesthetic, he pinpointed Robert Mitchum – one of film noir’s most ambiguous anti-heroes – as a key source of inspiration for a collection that fed on contemporary anxieties about terrorism and distrust of strangers. 

But Mouret’s wolves came in spectacularly good sheep’s clothing, made with an underlying passion for functionalism and luxury. Techno rayons, stretch seersucker, washed lambskin and superfine cashmere formed a relaxedly luxurious fabric palette for a collection where every piece seemed to be cut with a precision that connected with the models’ bodies with a striking sense of proportion.

Dismissive of his own growing stature in the industry (a passed-on compliment from a recent intern is greeted with a laughing “Really? But I SHOUT!!”, the designer has his own ideas about who to keep an eye out for in the next wave of fashion up-and-comers, citing London print-kings Peter Pilotto as the label he’s expecting great things from in the future. Yet – despite passing himself off as an old hand – the passion and control behind his runway marks Roland Mouret out, unlikely as it seems, as an exciting new voice to watch on the Parisian menswear schedule.

Catwalk images courtesy of Nowfashion. Backstage images by John-Michael O’Sullivan

Posted by: John-Michael O' Sullivan


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