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With a fresh line, Roland Mouret is idol of the hour

His first show since 2005 puts the designer back on the scene, thanks to help from a TV magnate and a marketing hook: ready-to-wear that's ready to buy online.

July 06, 2007|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

PARIS — It may be the closest thing to instant gratification that the runway fashion universe has ever seen.

Roland Mouret, the French designer who earned a reputation a few years back for creating the famed, body-perfecting "Galaxy" dress, presented his new collection on the runway Wednesday. And you could order it starting Thursday morning on the fashion website

"It's a 21st century trunk show," said site founder Natalie Massenet, who counts Mouret as one of her bestselling designers. "We are bringing the magic of the fashion show to our customers."

The show, held at the Museum of Architecture here, was Mouret's first since 2005, when he had a falling-out with his backer, causing him to lose the rights to designing under his own name. Now he has a new backer -- Simon Fuller, the "American Idol" magnate -- and a new name, RM.

Mouret put together a creative, hotly anticipated return amid the haute couture presentations in Paris, where about 150 store buyers, fashion press and fans squeezed into elevators and rode to the top floor of the museum.

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus, was grinning ear to ear. "I'm so glad he's back," he said.

Mouret showed a stellar collection of linen swing coats with cap sleeves folded origami-like into epaulets, scarf-like silk dresses with open backs and subtle pannier-like folds at the hip, and zip-up jackets that were kind of a cross between a track jacket and a blazer. The "Moon" dress in particular looks as if it could be a hot item, in gray linen with cap sleeves and a full-length, exposed zipper down the back.

Christian Louboutin designed the shoes, a kind of high-heeled bootie with side buttons, which are available on the website as well.

Prices range from $600 to $3,300, which is on par with the designer world. Massenet expects the line to sell out quickly on the website, but it will also be available in the fall at Neiman Marcus.

Mouret said backstage that he set out to create essentials for a woman's wardrobe, though the pieces seemed to skew very young and very short, as in skirts with extremely high slits.

Nevertheless, the approach -- showing a ready-to-wear collection during couture week and selling it online immediately -- is certainly intriguing. And it was Fuller who pushed for the unconventional.

"He encouraged me to think about new ways of producing, presenting and selling clothes," Mouret said. Along with the goods, the Net-a-porter site will feature designer interviews, makeup how-tos and backstage photographs.

The only hang-up so far: Although you can order clothing pieces online today, they won't be delivered until November.

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