This fourth collection from Charles De Vilmorin was presented off-schedule during the couture season in Paris. As with the previous three, its primary delivery mechanism was through a video, which the designer shot on a cast of friends wearing his latest pieces. Some of these were toiles, hand-illustrated by the designer, while the others were more fully realized by the Italian-based team at Rochas, the house to which De Vilmorin was handed the artistic directorship not so long ago.
De Vilmorin said that the visual narrative expressed through the collection was inspired by the Italian tradition of Commedia del’ Arte, and concerned the friendly invasion of Earth by some alien creatures determined to suffuse it with color. His pieces certainly possess color: Along with his distinct illustrative style an almost Lacroix-esque sumptuousness of palette that speaks to the 1980s more broadly is becoming a signature. The dresses and suits were often semi-abstract anthropomorphic representations of his cat-eyed alien sirens, and the association with a highly performative creative tradition made sense. Some of the illustrations were inspired by the work of James Ensor.
De Vilmorin seems like a chap tres sympa who is possessed with a compelling personal style, a fair amount of aura, and that distinct illustrative technique. The question facing him is how (if he wishes) to generate an audience beyond the established coterie of friends and supporters, whether at his own label, or Rochas, or elsewhere.