Branded a “prolific flatterer,” Roland Mouret has fittingly made a career out of flattering figures.
A self-made fashion designer in the truest sense, the native of Lourdes, France has proven himself a style superstar multiple times over. The son of a butcher, he left home at 18 to seek his fortune in Paris. There he met Jean Paul Gaultier, who asked him to work on the prestigious brand’s in-progress menswear show.
This first breakthrough was followed by many more. The most earth shaking came with the legendary Galaxy dress in 2005. (Above, Halle Berry can be seen in the cap sleeved masterpiece.) The popularity of the piece was overwhelming. Roland has been called a “prolific flatterer,” so it’s only appropriate that this most famous creation of his was most notable for its universally flattering design. It was hailed as the dress of the season, then the dress of the year, then the dress of the decade.
The Galaxy dress phenomenon would have dwarfed the career of a mediocre designer, obliterating all their other accomplishments. Not so, in Mouret’s case. Each of his creations is imprinted with an unmistakable signature. Crisp, playfully geometrical, and irresistibly drapey, their defining feature is frequently a delicate, origami-like folding. Each one is understated yet sexy, and above all, wearable.
This is what kept Mouret afloat after he had a falling out with his business partners in November 2005, shortly after the release of the Galaxy dress. It transpired that the contract he had signed left him with nothing — not even the legal right to use his own name commercially. His response was to take a two year hiatus from fashion.
The reboot came through Victoria Beckham, of all people. A client of Mouret’s and later his protege when she went into fashion design herself, she encouraged him to partner with her manager, Simon Fuller. Called RM to avoid legal conflicts, the new brand rose from the ashes of the first. The pseudonym didn’t fool anyone. It was clear that these designs could be none other than Roland Mouret’s, and they were enthusiastically embraced by the style savvy.
Mouret is one of those rare designers gifted with an uncanny ability to divine exactly what women want out of a garment, without them even knowing they want it. Aside from this great strength, there is also his talent for keeping on top of trends. Triangle cut outs, off shoulder pieces, and cut out shoulders were three of the biggest trends of the last year and Mouret was at the vanguard of each. He was also ahead of the curve with the see-now buy-now movement, making his first RM collection of “easy chic” dresses available for purchase online the day after the July 4, 2007 show.
An incontrovertible master of fashion, the periods of trial in Mouret’s career only cemented his success in the long run. Asked if he ever worried whether his career could survive, the designer’s answer was definitive: “No. I knew I was going to come back. Always. Even without a name.” — jas