Haute couture designer Stéphane Rolland presents his debut kaftan collection for SS21 with 11 looks that incorporate djellabas, bisht coats, jumpsuits, and Zouave pants. The collection is made-to-measure in Paris with luxurious fabrics like cotton cashmere, silk damask, velvet, and crepe de chine with hand-embellishment and jewel incrustations. “You could call it Collection Zero,” smiles the couturier in his new Avenue de Villiers, Paris, showroom. “It’s a concept that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I have always had a passionate relationship with the Middle East. When I was working for Jean-Louis Scherrer in the Nineties, I insisted on visiting our clients to see them in their own environment. I was the first haute couture designer to visit Riyadh in 1997.” Arabian women have always fascinated him. “Appearance is extremely important, but the elegance in the way that they assimilate their mode of dress, how they sit, how they move, their hand gestures – it’s a ballet. That first visit was a revelation. I began wearing a Bisht coat over my dinner jacket. Everyone found it extremely chic. Women began ordering them from me. My first order was from HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar.”
The seed for this collection was sown. Rolland now intends for it to become a staple of his eponymous maison. “It marks a real return to elegance with exquisite quality. I wanted to channel the iconic women who began wearing kaftans in the Sixties, like Elizabeth Taylor and Marisa Berenson.” For this collection, Rolland extended his palette with yellow saffron and sand, then earth neutrals, pearl gray, olive-bronze, and oud wood. Pieces are embellished with hand-embroidery, rolled gold chains, gray tanzanite, and crystals by the maison’s Parisian ateliers. It is vital that these French couture skills are kept alive. Then, each design is made-to-measure in Paris for each client. It’s sustainable luxury.” Rolland’s digital show, along with these images, feature his favorite model, Nieves Álvarez, at the Théâtre de la Villette. The two met when they were both 20 and Álvarez was the last muse of Yves Saint Laurent. “She has the most unique way of walking I have ever seen, gliding, with an extreme sensuality,” he comments.
“She has the Spanish pride and the grace of a toreador, but her elegance and gestures are oriental.” Álvarez attests that Rolland creates for the self-confident, independent woman. “His designs, with their architectural proportions, volume, and movement are pure magic. He creates this beautiful mood that always fills me with light.”
Originally published in the March 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia