Stephane Rolland goes big, bold on haute couture
Mon Jan 26, 10:00 AM EST

PARIS – French designer Stephane Rolland made his debut Monday as a full member of the elite club of grands couturiers, sending out an imaginative collection of cocktail dresses and evening gowns that played on bold beadwork and unexpected elements like bustles and capes.

Rolland cited Constantin Brancusi as an inspiration for the collection shown on the opening day of Paris haute couture week, and the influence of the Romanian-born sculptor was clear in the show's big, bold volumes and harmonious lines.

A stiff cone-shape panel emerged from the bust of a strapless shift dress and, curling ingeniously around itself, attached to the hemline.

Another shift dress in fire engine red had a bustle-like drapery that emerged from the shoulders and attached to the hemline, creating a sort of chic superhero cape. One show-stopping look improbably melded a one-shoulder evening gown with a pantsuit.

Lozenge-shaped leather discs covered a sleeveless organza evening gown in an intricate scale pattern.

Artful mosaic beadwork also adorned the hemline of many of the other floor-length dresses, making tinkling sounds as the models strutted their stuff. At the end, the catwalk was littered with sparkling beads and rhinestones that had popped off during the show.

The collection, which opened with 10 little back dresses, was heavier on daywear than most haute couture shows, in what was perhaps a concession to the current hard economic times.

But don't tell that to Rolland. The designer bristled at talk of the economy, saying he was "sick and tired of hearing the word 'crisis.'"

"That word is like a hammer that keeps hitting me on the head till I fall down," said Rolland. "We have to fight and the best way to do that is to go ahead and be positive."

Monday's show, which was held in the Palais de Tokyo, was Rolland's first since being admitted to the select group of haute couture labels. Rolland, a former designer for French house Jean-Louis Scherrer, had previously shown his haute couture line as an invited member — not an official one.

Other official members include heavy hitters like Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix and Givenchy.

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