Backstage before his really rather wonderful Spring 2020 show, Roland Mouret came to chat for a moment, clutching a hanger. He held it up. “After the Galaxy, this,” he said, raising the hanger a little higher to be in the line of vision, “is going to be the biggest thing for me. It’s my baby.” To be clear, there was nothing on said hanger, no Galaxy redux, the career-defining dress that women went crazy for—really, really crazy for—more than a decade ago. But in the time since Mouret designed that dress, well, we all know what has happened. We live and breathe and think about it every single day—the terrible rise of populist, far-right politics; current and impending climate catastrophe; a crueler era—and designers, well Mouret at least, are not immune to all the same stuff we drive ourselves to distraction thinking about.

That hanger is something Mouret developed with a company called Arch & Hook. It’s sustainable. Eighty percent of it is manufactured out of recycled marine plastics, a positive step in fighting the environmental impact made by so many aspects of the fashion industry. It’s one thing he can do—has done—to make a difference. And potentially quite a huge difference at that, when you consider how many hangers end up as landfill. Mouret has always been a designer who is many things, as instinctual as he is thoughtful, as pragmatic as he is a sensualist. The rapidly evolving and devolving world around him is something he feels an unavoidable duty to respond to. “You wake up in the morning as a designer,” he said during that backstage chat, “and think, How am I going to design another outfit? What’s the point of it? Even if we love our jobs, we can’t avoid that question. And at the end of the day, it comes back to people. We love people.”

And this is where the counterpoint to the seriousness of his sustainability initiative with the hanger comes in. Mouret understands that the clothes we wear, the clothes suspended from those very hangers, still need to touch us heart, mind, and soul, perhaps now more than ever. For all the weightiness of the times we live in, Mouret responded with lightness and loveliness. The former could be seen in the fabrics, with shimmering aqueous celadon sequins rendered as a sinuous second-skin dress or a jacket casually thrown over the arm of a diaphanous navy shirt and slouchy lilac trousers. Crumpled, relaxed Berber striped cottons were used for a shirtdress with a matching cross-body hammock bag, or for a rather inventive new pants shape which echoed pajamas, the hems wrapped and knotted at the ankles.

As to the latter, the loveliness, it was all about the silhouette: softer, gentler, easier; a response, Mouret said, to draping fabric so his clothes can work for everyone, whatever their shape, size, or gender. As with last season, he showed on all sorts of gorgeous gals, a convincing exercise in body positivity, and quite a few guys too. Mouret’s always had a knack of empathizing with those wearing his clothes—the Galaxy dress from all those years ago was proof of that—but for Spring, that ability of his saw him excel.

 

Words, MARK HOLGATE from Vogue

Photography, Vogue