The name Guy Laroche lingers as one of those slightly indefinable French couture houses that is most likely powered by its much more familiar fragrances, Fidji and Drakkar Noir. Which is not to say that Laroche didn’t have a distinct signature in the heyday of the label’s namesake. “He was very much of-the-moment,” said Adam Andrascik, the Central Saint Martins-trained young American who showed his first collection for Laroche today. “It’s my challenge to bring back that relevance.”

The route he chose was rock—a hard, deconstructed edge that, for all its tip of the cap to Guy’s signatures, such as open-backed tops and use of the shiny skin known as “paper leather,” went looking for relevance in much shadier places. One of Andrascik’s stated influences was The Pillow Book, Peter Greenaway’s cult movie from 1996 that revolved around the fetishistic power of body art in Japanese culture and the unabashed nudity of Ewan McGregor. For his own collections in London, Andrascik had leather jackets tattooed, an effect that was unfortunately unfeasible for Laroche. Even more unfortunately, the effect was duplicated today in a black-and-white tattoo print, overlaid with gold foil Japanese calligraphy.

The foil effect worked much better when it was used to define sinuous knit dresses that were Andrascik’s most successful stab at relevance. The mesh overlay he applied to fitted jersey dresses also put a glint in the eye of the Guy Laroche renaissance. Still, the cumulative effect of panel-hemmed warrior skirts, dévoré velvets, and black lacquered lace was inevitably gothic, which probably wasn’t the effect the designer was after. But as an indication of his state of mind going into this formidable assignment, Andrascik did mention that one of the things that appealed to him most about The Pillow Book was the strangeness of two cultures fusing. “I’m a boy from Pittsburgh coming to Paris,” he mused. “I can relate.”

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