If the girly squeals at the conclusion of Alessandra Rich’s presentation were anything to go by, we’d assume today’s show in Paris was a success. It’s clear Rich knows her customer well. Many of the women inside the gallery space, on a leafy patch near the Eiffel Tower, were in fact clientele, the wild, raucous reception at the end suggestive of this. “I’m going to buy it all tomorrow,” one woman told her friend, both wearing Alessandra Rich frocks. Indeed, you could tell the show-goers were fans, everyone from super-bloggers to shopaholics arriving in Rich’s, well, sartorial riches. The bold jutting shoulders, the ditzy florals, the sparkling embellishment; a pair of her famous rhinestone heart earrings dangled on every second patron, such is the cult-like effect of the Italian-born, British-based designer.
Teeming with art and divided by lofty granite partitions, it was a tight squeeze; as models navigated the intimate space, gracefully stepping over heels and boots (no sneakers, this was Alessandra Rich, after all). But it was worth it. A collection which redefined Dynasty-dressing for the modern sophisticate, Rich’s glamorous ’80s aesthetic remained but was tweaked with a new mantra in mind: ladylike you. On each seat, lay a quiz: Discover how ladylike you are with this quiz!, it read. Column A was “Totally Ladylike”; prim, proper and feminine, sovereign “you won’t be caught in sneakers” kind of vibes. Column B was “A New Ladylike”; a little classy but also a little crazy, she can flick a switch when duty calls. “Rebel Ladylike” was the last column; an enigma who subverts pomposity and sits on the floor in a sparkly dress and no shoes. Each category had their perfect look listed, a cute and clever move by Rich.
As the collection wafted past, the three women became quite clear. There were the tweed twin-sets, peter-pan collars and polka-dot tea dresses for the Total Lady, perfect for cucumber sandwiches and Pimms (and considering Kate Middleton is a fan, we believe this to be her). For the New Lady, embellished mini dresses puffed at the sleeve and gowns which revealed a little skin (and a little VPL). And for the Rebel, an aesthetic we’ve not yet seen of Rich; scant dressing, utterly sheer lace, holographic high-cut bikinis and crystal shawls. It felt the ladylike version of fetishwear, luxurious yet seductive. But of course, Rich’s beloved signatures remained; the rhinestone buttons, the giant jewel earrings, the soap opera shoulders, facets of the brand so distinct to the designer you can spot a Rich design a mile off (literally!)
A collection dedicated to the lady in all of us, it was in fact dedicated to one particular lady, some would argue the ultimate lady, Dame Joan Collins. The show notes opened with her famous quote: “The age gap with new husband? If he dies, he dies.” True, the Alessandra Rich woman doesn’t need a husband, all she needs is a fabulous dress and a pair of oversized, crystal earrings.