Prior to this morning’s show, I was beginning to get concerned about Guy Laroche. The web site is apparently down. Activity on Twitter has been almost non-existent. Marcel Marongiu’s Facebook page hasn’t been touched since March of last year. There was no pre-show hype, no rumors being “leaked,” nor anything coming from the very popular label in terms of communication. Typically, this isn’t a good sign. While Marongiu has been at the Paris fashion house longer than anyone since Laroche’s death in 1996, last season’s collection was disappointing at best and sales have been slipping rather seriously. I wondered if, perhaps, Marongiu was in ill health because certainly the brand doesn’t seem to be healthy.
Fortunately, this collection is dramatically stronger over last season, and Marcel is alive, healthy and happy. Presenting a collection he describes as, “a radical, punky sense of austerity,” there seems to be some life and some direction to this season’s line that wasn’t there previously. Perhaps my concerns were misplaced.
I was a bit confused at the front of the show, though. While the first two looks were strong on leather minimalism, from there Marcel made a curious shift to … mohair coats? The next several looks are masculine, almost militaristic in nature, with multiple pieces sporting large pockets on both breasts. The look is reminiscent of last season’s disappointment and I was concerned that the only thing that had changed was the color palette. There were also some wavy blue and white prints that seemed totally out of step, as though they had gotten lost in the wrong collection.
When the set finally gets around to doing punk, though, it does it very well and surprisingly feminine. While we still see many of Marcel’s trademark folds in the skirts and dresses, which is a wonderful thing, silhouettes are much tighter, at times even closely fitted, providing a dramatically feminine look we’ve not seen from the label in recent seasons. These are very strong looks that, since they’re done in black and heavy with leather, are going to appeal to a much broader audience than the label has seen in quite a while. The collection gets absolutely cheeky when Marongiu goes sheer with black pvc polka dots!
Perhaps this is why there has been some silence from the brand on the digital front. What was presented this morning is dramatically different than previous seasons. I’ll stop short of saying it is an improvement, since that determination is a bit too subjective at this point, but this is definitely a stronger and likely more publicly palatable collection than we’ve seen in quite a while. If the brand and the designer are making a turn toward more feminine and fitted clothes, I will not object. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.