Lions, tigers, and—Schiaparelli? Oh my!

This season the mastermind behind the revival of the iconic brand polarizes the romantic hues and shapes of the garden as we enter the nine circles of hell.

Daniel Roseberry once again approaches the oeuvre of Schiaparelli with an ultra-stylized contradiction of doubt and courage. As always with Schiaparelli, one should never assume, as they will always be greeted by the unexpected. Its Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2023 collection is no exception.

This time, he takes us on a journey through Dante’s Inferno with a narrative of deception, uncertainty, and craftsmanship, all wrapped up in a bow of posh surrealism.

With its Haute Couture Fall Winter 2022 collection, Roseberry and his team stunned with a lavish vestiary bouquet of flora. Flowers—a symbol traced back to the late Elsa Schiaparelli’s childhood—bloomed from the busts of svelte models. It was an ode to the season of new beginnings. Sensuous silks in red, ivory, and pastels swathed luxuriously around midnight blue and black velvets.

Through ridges and meticulous draping, Schiaparelli reminded its audience that although fashion can at times seem a perpetual cycle of scrutiny and repurposing, we can, at times, marvel at its ability to be reborn and inspire.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

This season the mastermind behind the revival of the iconic brand polarizes the romantic hues and shapes of the garden as we enter the nine circles of hell.

In a celestial hall flooded with natural light and lined with veined marble, Schiaparelli returns to the Petit Palais to display its latest endeavors to fuse fantasy and reality, the conscious and the subconscious, all through the seams of fashion.

The show opens with a color palette so characteristic of Schiaparelli; it’s almost as if this Paris-based surrealist couture house has steeped black, white, and gold in its name.

Following its almost centennial fixation on the restricted female form, cinched waists proliferate amidst the runway. Ultra-fitted yet voluminous and angular, a black, corseted dress enters. Underneath its curvilinear hem at the hip, a burst of white pleats jabs outwards, creating a lavish display of texture through contrast. With a subtle gold keyhole at the dress’ center, it was, unequivocally, a refreshing spin on the maximalist language Roseberry has gifted us in previous collections.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Pacing the runway with a solemn intensity, a black gown stretching past the knee captures the eyes of everyone in the room. Horns extending past the bust and to the temples create an intimidating yet sensuous spectacle of reflective black panels. As their gazes are drawn to its fastened waist, a graceful array of black feathers frame the hips with a charm reminiscent of Swan Lake.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

This season, Schiaparelli welcomes pinstripes. Rigorously molding the model’s body, an hourglass figure of ceramic rigidity takes form in a double-breasted jacket. Pinstripes stretch down its matching trousers, extending the body into a bold, towering figure.

Undeniably, masculinity is a concept being toyed with at the hands of its design team. A byword of this is a tailored, velvet tuxedo in look 20. Dramatic shoulders extending well past the width of its wearer’s hips bring the hourglass figure into a garment commonly perceived as masculine. As Roseberry parallels strength with seduction, an update of the tuxedo has not created such a statement since Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking. Paired with a black, backless heel adorned with accent keyholes at its pointed toe, Schiaparelli excels at what it does best, turning the expected into the unexpected.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Introducing color to the affair, an enormous copper bust, patina’d by hand, took precedence as one of the collection’s highlights. Crafted for approximately four months, its dexterous execution demonstrates the talent Schiaparelli’s couturiers hold in their hands.

Kindred spirits in their pomp and grandeur, a jewel-encrusted bust— mimicking a peacock—and a velvet hand-painted columns dress communicate a language of brilliant craftsmanship.

Equally as vital as craftsmanship, heritage, too, takes priority at Roseberry’s Schiaparelli. Look 32 exemplifies this as a rose gold ensemble pays homage to the late founder’s bureau-drawers suit from Schiaparelli’s 1936 Haute Couture collection. Reduced to three drawers, it is reimagined as a metallic mini dress. In doing so, Roseberry brings the avant-garde of the house’s surrealist roots to the modern woman.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Aside from honoring heritage, the triad of its three drawers assumed distinct relevance to the theme at hand. Three drawers acted as an emblem for the triad constituting The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso.

While the Maison intentionally eased on its anatomical references frequented in previous collections, accessories this season continued to pay tribute to the house’s heritage. A croc-embossed satchel adorned with the signature Schiaparelli face was spotted on the runway alongside heels molded with elevated toe motifs.

Naomi Campbell once again made headlines sporting a faux-fur coat with a she-wolf growling off one shoulder. Unlike the wolf, her face remained as gracious as ever. The sum of her appearance and that of Irina Shayk and Shalom Harlow bearing faux taxidermy unleashed pandemonium in the metaverse—mimicking Dante’s rings of hell as comments of uproar snarled louder than the lions in the show. Referencing the taxidermy of exotic animals, questions arose about what consequences these images may impose on the global poaching crisis.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

The question remains: is it promoting poaching or providing an alternative to exotic furs in fashion? With a multi-billion-dollar industry founded on the slaughter of exotic animals, can an international couture sensation like Schiaparelli inspire the elite to abandon these practices? Or will it continue to establish exotic furs as a token of status? One can only wonder. What is clear, however, is that Roseberry’s intention to deconstruct the barrier between reality and fantasy may have scorched the brand amidst the finger-pointing cancel culture prevalent in today’s world.

Roseberry concluded in a press release, “Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso: One cannot exist without the others. It is a reminder that there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt. My prayer for myself is that I remember that always – that, on my most difficult days, when inspiration just won’t come, I remember that no ascension to heaven is possible without first a trip to the fires, and the fear that comes with it. Let me embrace it always.” His show notes may have foreshadowed the strength he may need to challenge venturing past the show’s contrasting reactions. While the materialization of the abstract and shock value are inseparable aspects of the Schiaparelli legacy, it leads one to question whether there is a place for shock value in today’s highly scrutinizing culture?


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