Interview: Stéphane Rolland. Couture Fall/Winter 2021
Updated: Jul 13
"De l'eau et de la roche" "Water and stones"
When a fashion film starts with strong images of the crashing waves of the Atlantic as it fades in the summer movement from Vivaldi’s fourth season, you know that what you are about to watch will not lack drama. And then, the collection opens with a white crepe gown with a ruffled organza tail that alludes to the images of the foam of the seawater; accessorized with minimalistic jewelry made from white, smooth stones: as those that Stéphane use to recollect from the beach when he was a child. The dark tides in fluid movement, the rocky shore, and the windy grey sky all begin to blend together into a quasi-monochromatic fashion melodrama that builds up into a highlight of brighter gowns in strong yellow and red. Just as Stéphane told us when giving us a preview of his work at his Parisian showroom:
“This collection is all about glamour, sea, and nature”
All photos courtesy of the designer
This season, Stéphane Rolland opted to present his collection with a fashion film as he considered that it was better to wait until the covid crisis dissipates more to restart fashion shows. As much as he could want to do a fashion show, he was very positive about making a film as it was also a gateway for him to design his collection as well as picturing the environment and the mood he wanted to set for its story.
“I love making these films because I can collaborate with film directors, different artists, work with the light, work with a different rhythm, and all the organization is different. We could think it is easier, but it is not, the timing is not the same because we have to be prepared more in advance. You can be ready one day before a fashion show, but you must be ready at the very least fifteen days in advance for a film to leave time for the editing.”
While designing the collection, he told us how he was simultaneously picturing how he would present it at a natural and wild place, and thus how he naturally opted for Biarritz as he is very close to this city:
“For me, the seawalls looked like a natural catwalk: I immediately imagined all the waves crashing and exploding on the stones. And this is why I decided to film there, because of its authenticity.”
For this occasion, he met the film director from the region Toma Jablon for the video production. Regarding the dresses, he took great inspiration from the French mosaic artist Beatrice Serre, imitating her style in mosaic work via his intrinsic beading work. Stéphane discovered Beatrice through one of his friends, Yves Gastou, who was a famous French gallerist and who insisted that he should meet her one day for her unique mosaic work, which he described as cosmic and timeless. Mr. Gastou assured Stéphane that one day they would do a project together, and years later that prediction came true.
“I called Beatrice because I felt that it was the right moment, and she accepted immediately. I told her to trust me and that I would embroid in tribute to her work and try my best to be faithful and honest and to respect her DNA as much as I could.”
All photos courtesy of the designer
This season, the beading work was refreshing and rich, often imitating the variety of pebbles you can find at a sandy beach, as well as including larger stones to enhance the volume of his strongest pieces in duchess-satin. For this endeavor, Stéphane had set a new challenge with her embroider Corine Bizet, to apply Beatrice mosaic style into high fashion embroidery:
“It was quite tough and delicate: we formed very precious stones, we melted the marecaye, we sculpted minuscular stones in marble… well, you can imagine it was crazy, but we did it. The result was absolutely stunning, so we are happy.”
But as important as the beading work is in this collection, the sea as a theme is present in different forms, not only in particular shapes that imitate the sand or the water but as well as a symbol of a certain form of lifestyle.
“It’s in the cut of the dresses, except for the big ball gowns, I did very comfortable and loose shapes. Because I believe that in our time women want to feel relaxed, and cooler. You can find that spirit in the dresses of the ’60s and the ’70s which were a bit hippie but super glamourous at the same time.”
Stéphane does not only insert looser garments into a fashion trend, but as a sign of a big shift of mentality and lifestyle of the haute couture clients. Showing how rich you are is no longer important, people want to enjoy life in a simpler way: traveling, have parties in private, being elegant and chic rather than extravagant.
On a final note, we looked forward as we discussed the experience of creating such a beautiful fashion film against the uncertainty of doing a fashion show for the upcoming season in January. Stéphane had an interesting perspective of the subject which ultimately goes along with the positive spirit of this collection.
“I would be very happy if I can do a fashion show in January, but if it isn’t possible, I don’t want to be someone negative. I would tell myself, “Ok, I can’t, so let’s find solutions” … I would be happy to have a fashion show with all the staff of girls creating an army of beauty walking on the catwalk… It is because I know that I will be back to do a fashion show, that I don’t have a problem doing a fashion film in the meanwhile."
Watch Stéphane Rolland's full fashion film below