Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
Roland Mouret, inventor of the Galaxy dress, has launched a new collection at Banana Republic today, a shop my Parisian great aunt Ghislaine (an intrepid shopper at 93) refers to with great affection as ‘Banane’.
A quick Google gets my hopes up. US Vogue raves about Roland Mouret’s ‘feminine, figure-flattering garments’ and ‘well-documented appreciation of an hourglass silhouette.’ Madame Figaro talks about ‘une capsule ultra.’
I’ve always dreamt of being the kind of sussed person who owns a capsule wardrobe.
The Internet throws up several sharply-cut Roland Mouret dresses cinched in at the waist. Cut, rather than colour, is the leitmotif. Most of the dresses are black. And needless to say they’ve already sold like hotcakes online.
Hoping to find some savvy French shoppers scanning the rails I go to the Chelsea branch of Banana Republic, near Sloane Square. As the shop’s a hop and a skip from South Ken and probably the closest branch to Clapham, that other French ghetto, I reckon it’s my best bet.
I get there mid morning to find the shop is not busy at all and is only offering a small range of Roland Mouret clothes (‘You need to go to Regent Street, madam’). Still, it’s the frocks I’m interested in and that’s what’s on the rails.
My first thought is that RM’s dresses are designed for women with toned upper arms, which rules out those of us who aren’t either genetically blessed or prepared to put in long hours at the gym. My second thought is that the dresses are sexy in a vampy secretary sort of way.
Once I’ve got to grips with the irritating American sizing – a 6 is a UK 10 etc – I realise it’s not looking good. Early birds, possibly French early birds, have grabbed most of the UK 10s and 12s so size wise I’m looking at the clothes equivalent of lorries and Minis.
Convinced something will surely fit I head to the changing rooms with an enormous pile of dresses.
Here are my top 3 buys:
Clockwise from above left This looks much better on than off and is very chic and rather Chanel. I found it a good fit apart from the upper back which felt too roomy (enough space to post a small parcel). £85.
Above I love this colour! With my marshmallow cheeks, I can no more wear it than fly to the moon but it’s a hot pink that would look ravishing on tanned or dark skin. One size too small, possibly with Spanx knickers underneath and a firm pledge to never eat chocolate again, may well work for other women whose size has sold out. £85
Left The size zero sales assistant was wearing this frock which strikes me as the perfect little black number with its mesh back and sleeves, and clingy, come-hither silhouette. I tried squeezing into one two sizes too small before realising it was quite hopeless. The zip said non, non et non! £99.50.