Elsa Schiaparelli’s worthy successor, Daniel Roseberry, maintains a balance between house codes and contemporary references for the fashion house’s new era
Schiaparelli Spring 2022
The last time Paris Couture Week took place in the physical realm, instead of exclusively digital, was a year into seismic changes and shake-ups, forcing the world to adapt to a new normal. There was optimism in the summer air: a hope that the worst is already behind us and life will now go on uninterrupted. But, all that hope evaporated with Omicron.
Daniel Roseberry acknowledged the mood of uncertainty. He found inspiration in the ambivalence, designing an array of escapist creations fit not for the post-pandemic parties but rather otherworldly planets.
Titling it ‘The Age of Discipline’, the designer was referring to his intention this season to pare down his typical colors and voluminous proportions in favor of a more elemental interpretation of the house’s Surrealist rules.
Sticking to the simple palette of black, white, and gold, he «wanted to see if [he] could achieve the same kind of drama and otherworldliness without relying on those tropes», as written in the show notes. Yet the notion of discipline was not what came to mind while looking at the exuberant creations floating down the hall of the Petit Palais in Paris.
2022 feels like a reprise of the Space Age with the renewed interest in voyages to Mars. Perhaps not accidentally, Roseberry’s leisure time in isolation was dedicated to space films: Dune, Prometheus, Interstellar, Arrival were all on his watchlist.
«The heavens is a place to escape from the chaos of our planet», wrote the designer in the show notes. The cosmic inspirations shine through in multiple ways, most evident in the orbital rings surrounding dresses and one Baroque creation inspired by the sun’s rays, comprised of gold leaf and cabochon stones sourced from the 1930s.
Further, the gilded elements required months of perfecting: the collection features a new Schiaparelli gold, specially formulated for the house – «neither warm nor cool, neither brassy nor rose». One dress featured thin metallic straps coming out of the bodice, reminiscent of a meteor shower or a jellyfish.
Other designs were an homage to the house’s founder. A black satin tailcoat, worn front to back, exhibited gold embroidery referencing Elsa Schiaparelli’s Apollo of Versailles cape created in 1938 for actress and socialite Lady Mendl.
A tribute to the gold palm tree jacket
Roseberry also paid tribute to the 1936 black jacket with gold palm tree embellishments at the front. The jacket gained voluminous rounded shoulders; 3-D palm tree sculptures were sticking out of it. Though a century has passed since the movement’s heyday, Roseberry’s collection oozed surrealism.
The embellishments gave it a mystical and ethereal quality, but the clothes themselves would still inspire awe. Aerodynamic bustiers and jackets were engineered to perfection, their silhouettes sharp and geometric.
Roseberry achieved the typical couture theatrics without flashy hues; the grandeur came from the vision and craftsmanship. Since joining the house in 2019, Roseberry’s collections Schiaparelli’s collections have met with acclaim season after season.
History of the house of Schiaparelli
The house’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, was described as «the Italian artist who makes clothes» by her rival Coco Chanel. She ventured into fashion in the 1920s after being abandoned by her husband.
It quickly became her passion. A department store buyer noticed her early design – specifically, a black jersey with a white trompe l’oeil bow – and placed a large order. In 1934 she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, the first woman ever to receive this distinction.
The article referred to her as «one of the arbiters of ultra-modern Haute Couture». A year later, she opened a boutique in the Place Vendôme and soon attracted many high-profile clients. Among them was Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.
Surrealist femininity and the distance from Chanel’s practice
Her designs oozed provocation and irony: a far cry from Chanel, who dominated the fashion world before she came around. Schiaparelli’s goal was not to give women elegance or chic: she trusted they already had these qualities.
Instead, she aimed to attract attention, and Surrealism was the perfect fit. Acquainting herself with the most prominent artists of her time (Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau) she found inspiration in their work, which sometimes resulted in iconic collaborations like the Circus and Musical Instruments collections.
Decades before Carrie Bradshaw famously wore the newspaper dress in Sex and the City, Schiaparelli came up with the self-referential approach to media. Indeed, it did so with a press made of clips on Schiaparelli news in the ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ collection.
She was the first to approach fashion with a sense of humor, her designs equally spectacular and amusing. Schiaparelli’s reign lasted for a quarter of a century; her star dimmed after World War II.
Her autobiography embraces Chanel’s spiteful remark: «To me, dress designing is not a profession, but an art».
Schiaparelli Spring 2022 couture
For the latest couture collection, Daniel Roseberry stripped everything back to attempt «achieving the same drama and otherworldliness». He accomplished this without relying on the usual tropes of colors and oversized silhouettes. An avant-garde array of garments in black, white and gold, elevated by otherworldly metal sculptures and vintage cabochons