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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stéphane Rolland, Couture & An American in Paris

His name is not well-known in the United States, but Stéphane Rolland is one of the few remaining couturiers showing Fall/Winter collections this week in Paris. He began his career at Balenciaga, then spent 10 years at Jean-Louis Scherrer before opening his own maison de couture in 2007. Intrepid young American photographer Patrick Armstrong was on hand to document Rolland's presentation in the Palais de la Découverte, including the sound check, the hair-and-makeup marathon, the hurry-up-and-wait that is part of every fashion show, and the final rush to congratulate and interview the designer.

Not every look that came down the runway on Monday was a success, but the collection held plenty of potential. Rolland says he's inspired by architecture, interior decoration and furniture design; occasionally, his clothes remind us of pieces by Pierre Cardin (though they're less rigid), the late Gianfranco Ferré (without that designer's grand gestures) or New York's Ralph Rucci. Rolland added spare punctuation in the form of sleek handbags and clutches. Given time (and feedback from clients) we trust he'll continue to strengthen his vocabulary, find his own voice and make even more distinctive statements.