Schiaparelli’s Universal Appeal

March 8, 2021

 Now in his fourth ready-to-wear season, Daniel Roseberry’s vision for Schiaparelli becomes more convincing. He builds on the legacy of the founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, who launched the label with a ready-to-wear line in 1927. 

The American designer coalesces fantasy and pragmatism at the atelier on Place Vendôme, astutely balancing the demands of extraordinary artistry associated with the house and the mercantile expectations of the fashion industry. Fall-Winter 2021 is no different: Roseberry delivered a vision of the familiar disrupted with unexpected details. Think: an array of indigo denim punctuated by gold charms; slick cream tailoring accented with Madonna Truth or Dare-era quilted wool breasts; soigné evening dresses enriched with gold bijoux; luxe cashmere boucle knitwear with leather trim — all in a collection that is as phantasmagoric and transportive as it is realisable IRL.

Additionally, Roseberry is strengthening the accessories arm at the label with a robust offering of jewellery (Dadaist gold earrings and oversized necklaces borrowing symbols from the archives — including the eye, and the padlock – to provide extra flair for our virtual gatherings) and handbags (the ‘Elsa’, embellished with a cast-metal mouth, pierced body parts, or house emblems like the keyhole. “It’s Elsa’s world and my world coming in as one,” he said).

Speaking over Zoom from the Schiaparelli showroom prior to the show, Roseberry explained, “Comparative to couture, there’s something humble about ready-to-wear in that it’s more utilitarian. I’ve always felt we’re in the service industry working in fashion. I really like that these clothes will serve a purpose other than inspiration.”

What inspired your collection?

I wanted to make sure that this collection wasn’t holding anything back creatively. It is both a conversation about surrealism, fantasy, imagination, and concept; and also a collection that is engaging with ideas about reality and commerce. I didn’t want to deliver something that was a diffused version of a couture idea. I wanted there to be a new idea, new directions, and a new playfulness with surrealism, but to take something as historic as this maison and make it into a modern brand. 

Elsa Schiaparelli launched the brand with Pour le sport, making ready-to-wear a part of the brand identity. Why is reviving ready-to-wear important to you? How have you crafted an identity for that part of the business?

It’s important for me that the imaginative side of what I want to bring to this house can be real; it can be something I send my mom and sisters. There’s something that feels so modern about that. It would be the kiss of death if I was remembered as a creative director known for couture who wasn’t making a strong and valid proposal for what ready-to-wear should look like.

I didn’t want these clothes to feel complicated from a silhouette perspective. I’m personally not in the mood to try to reimagine the wardrobe. For or me, it’s more about establishing our take on iconic wardrobe pieces and infusing them with an irrefutable, recognisable take on branding, which comes from the bijoux that we’ve turned into snaps on a parka, cuffs on a classic navy blazer, or rivets on a denim tuxedo. 

Accessories have become a huge part of your iteration of the brand — what role do they play this season?

Accessories, leather goods, and shoes – it’s a playground for me to be expressing all of these ideas through accessories. They’re so easy to engage with, as accessories. The silhouettes are quite intentionally something we already have a relationship with, so the accessories become the wow; they become the gag; they become the X factor. I didn’t want it to feel like we’re trying too hard to be cool. but it’s more ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ fashion. It’s really fun, it’s like a game. 

For a luxury house to be able to take those risks is quite interesting. How do you know what works and what doesn’t?

It’s a fine line. I don’t want it to be camp because that’s not the brand here. It’s a tightrope that we walk. We want to make sure it’s clear that you know what we’re referencing but we don’t want to make a joke of it. With all of this playfulness is an absurd level of luxury. I have no limits with prices of fabrics, trims, or finishings. 

Could you tell me about the presentation format?

We’re doing a film in the spirit of the last one. It loosely references ’90s music videos but it’s much more chill, relaxed. The last film was about silhouette and the grandness of couture in an unexpected and intense way, but this is laidback. I wanted it to feel easier and about the details. 

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