There was a fascinating interview with Roland Mouret in this past weekend’s Sunday Times. Mouret is French, but his fashion line was British-based for years and years, and his designs are beloved by many British women. During the pandemic, his business suffered and he had to close his label and fire all of his staff. But like a phoenix rising from ashes, Mouret has returned with a new business partner (Self-Portrait’s Han Chong) and a new, more affordable line. The business part of the interview is fascinating to me, but the piece is getting a lot of attention because Mouret talks about Kate, the Princess of Wales. Kate wore an older Mouret dress to the summer premiere of Top Gun Maverick, and it marked a big moment for Mouret’s fashion comeback. Some highlights from this piece:
His change in perspective: “Femininity can be strength now. The non-gendered situation of our time obliges us to redefine femininity. She can wear a pair of flat boots with a sexy dress now. She can have a split to here,” he gestures to the top of his thigh, “not because she wants to become an exotic attraction to the opposite sex, but because she thinks, ‘It’s my body, I do what I want and I like my legs and I show them.’”
He’s focused on doing selfie-friendly necklines and introduced peek-a-boo cut-out details. “In my past, I could never have done it,” he says, because his older customers would never wear it. His new, younger customers will lap it up, along with his signature wiggle dresses in shorter hemlines. “They say it’s younger, but it’s really Mouret — they like it.”
When Kate wore Mouret: When the Princess of Wales recently customised one of his old designs — a black column dress with a white off-the-shoulder band — by taking out the back zip, he was thrilled that they were thinking along the same lines. “She represents the way a woman grows, the way a woman stands not behind but beside. That sense of equality she has created — she’s powerful,” he says. There’s an orange short-sleeve dress in the collection that he casually refers to as the Kate dress. “I design with her in mind,” he says. “It makes me feel proud to be able to do things that can help her. To make things that she feels protected in at that moment when the world is looking at her, I’ve done a little part in protecting her.”
His Gallic vision: “There’s an 1980s Parisian attitude. I’m getting back in touch with my French soul… In England you have an aristocratic culture and the only way you can destroy that is by being eccentric. In France the bourgeois is destroyed by the seedy. It’s something we mix.”
His comments about Kate were a lot nicer than Alessandra Rich’s comments about Kate wearing her designs. But that’s the larger problem with Kate’s style and her relationship with fashion: Kate genuinely likes Rich’s fussy, frilly, ruffled, peplum’d, puffy designs. That’s Kate’s true style, very ‘80s and overdone, with no wink or humor. Meanwhile, Kate *should* want to lean more into the Mouret style – body-con, well-constructed, with an eye to a minimalist silhouette. Mouret isn’t designing with Kate in mind, he’s designing stuff which he hopes she’ll choose and which he hopes she realizes will complement her look. Meanwhile, Rich is explicitly NOT designing for Kate and that’s the sh-t Kate gravitates towards.
Photos courtesy of Dan Kitwood / Avalon, Backgrid and Instar.