About

the designers

Marcel Rochas was born in Paris, France in 1902. He opened his house in 1924. He was encouraged by Jean Cocteau, Christian Berard and Paul POIRET.

He was a strong, influential designer with an international reputation, who anticipated many of the most prominent fashion trends of the 20th century.

During the 30's, Rochas started to create black and white dresses that featured a white collar. His creative innovations often featured a strong shoulder line.

In 1931, Marcel ROCHAS opened his fashion house to the 12 Matignon avenue. His customers are composed, amongst other things, stars Hollywood such as Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich and among others.

For the actress Mae West, Marcel Rochas have created a black wasp-waisted corset of Chantilly. It appeared that the shapes of the woman have inspired him for the creation of the bottle of perfume « FEMME ».

In 1933, his collection featured wide shoulders, a style generally attributed to SCHIAPARELLI.

In 1935 the great fashion illustrator Cecil Beaton drew two Rochas gowns for Vogue. They show the typical thirties hem length at around mid calf, and the slinky silhouette so typical of the decade. He tried to show in his sketches, the luxurious fabrics and exquisite design which the house of Rochas was known for.

Marcel favoured hourglass silhouettes and foreshadowed the new look of Dior, by showing longer skirts in 1941.

In 1945 Marcel Rochas introduced a long strapless brassierre/girdle which enclosed the hips. It was a foundation garment that was to train figures for a decade. It was in Europe and the United States, called the "Waspie". This was based on the very small waist a Wasp has. In France where it was introduced, this name was not used, it was called a "guepiere".

In the 50's, he transposed casual trousers into the context of women's suiting - another Rochas novelty.

Rochas often worked with flower-patterned fabrics. He promoted the three-quarter-length coat and was one of the first designers to feature pockets in skirts. Rochas also specialized in separates and accessories, which he sold from a boutique in his salon.

Marcel Rochas died in 1955 at the early age of 53. However his house has continued to create clothing, perfumes and accessories.

From 1955, Rochas' wife Helene tried to take over the designing, but was not able to continue for long. Various designers have worked for the house.

In 1987 the German hair-care and cosmetics giant Wella bought the house of Rochas.

Peter O'Brien joined the house of Rochas in 1989 and since then has been the chief designer. He studied at Central St. Martin's, London and Parsons, New York before working with Marc Bohan at Dior, Givenchy and Chloe.

O'Brien presented the Rochas Spring/Summer 2003 ready-to-wear collection during Paris Fashion Week in October 2002. This is a dress from that collection.

In November 2002, it has been announced that Peter O'Brien is leaving the house of Rochas, and is being replaced by Belgian designer Olivier Theyskins.

the company

Rochas is a fashion, beauty, and perfume house founded in 1925 by Marcel Rochas, the first designer of 2/3-length coats and skirts with pockets. It is currently owned by Procter & Gamble.

The company found recent recognition for its fashion design when it chose Olivier Theyskens as its creative director in 2002. (In the years leading to his appointment, its clothes had not been considered notable). Theyskens, within his first few months, created an "entirely new silhouette for the house" that was French-influenced and elegant. His first full collection, for Fall 2003, was praised by style.com as "ravishing" and "nothing short of magnificent."

For the next several years, Rochas continued to garner praise among fashion critics and to attract loyal followers. In 2006, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Theyskens the International Award. However, Theyskens' focus on "demicouture" (special pieces too costly to mass-produce but which may not meet strict couture rules regarding hand-stitching and numbers of fitting) was questioned by fashion insiders as a viable business strategy. His gowns, some of which were priced upwards of $20,000, were often out of reach for all but the most fabulously wealthy. Theyskens took a purer approach to fashion and did not rely (like many fashion houses) on accessory sales and cheaper sister lines for a steady stream of revenue.

In July 2006, Procter & Gamble announced the discontinuation of Rochas' fashion division, shocking many in the fashion industry. One "longtime designer," commenting anonymously in the New York Times, said of the closure, "That sort of perfect, made-to-measure business can't exist today, which is really too bad. Everything is about business now, and fashion shouldn't have to follow normal economic models—that's not the point. What happened to investing in beauty?

The Look

His motto was "Youth, Simplicity, and Personality," alternatively reported in the New York Herald Tribune (3 August 1948) as "elegance, simplicity, and youth," but it was in many ways the characteristic of personality that differentiated Rochas from other designers of his era. His initial fame came in the 1920s and rested on his tailleur, accompanied with full, supple skirts.

Who Wears It

Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Lopez, Rachel Weisz, Sarah Jessica Parker

Perfumes

1944 Rochas Femme
1948 Mousseline (M)
1948 Eau de Verveine(M)
1948 Moustache (M)
1949 Mouche (M)
1949 La Rose de Rochas (W)
1960 Madame Rochas
1969 Monsieur Rochas
1970 Eau de Rochas (W)
1971 Audace
1978 Mystere de Rochas (W)
1980 Macassar (M)
1984 Lumiere (W)
1987 Byzance
1991 Globe (M)
1993 Eau de Rochas pour Homme
1994 Tocade (W)
1995 Byzantine (W)
1996 Fleur d'Eau (W)
1996 Eau de Fan
1997 Tocadilly (W)
1998 Alchimie (W)
1999 Rochas Man
2001 Aquaman (M)
2002 Aquawoman (W)
2002 Absolu (W)
2003 Rochas Lui (M)
2004 Poupee (Doll) (W)
2004 Lui (M)
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