To kick start Couture Fashion Week, the Italian fashion house Schiaparelli set the runway off in a fiery blaze. In its return to Petit Palais, the brand presented a lineup of sublime, surrealism-inspired looks. Drawing on the brand’s origins and the links that Elsa Schiaparelli flaunted to great artists of her time, Daniel Roseberry paid homage to household names in the arts. 

The Venue  

Titled “… And the artists” the show took place at Petit Palais, a historic building in the heart of Paris. The grand venue was built in 1900 to host the Universal Exhibition and afterward became a museum housing various exhibits. Petit Palais was designed by French architect Charles Girauly with the idea of melding classical and contemporary architectural styles. By including decorative murals, pavilions, and gardens, Girauly wished to bestow a sense of grandiosity on the building. Emulating the grandeur of a real palace, Petit Palais is now a timeless architectural wonder and a site to celebrate the arts. 

The Collection

Whenever a Schiaparelli show approaches, fashion enthusiasts are on the edge of their seats waiting for Roseberry’s creations — imprinted with the brand’s DNA and steeped in drama. And drama he did bring. Already known for reinterpreting Schiaparelli’s surrealist legacy, Roseberry took it to the next level and paid tribute to art masters. “I wanted to make an impossible wardrobe, impossible not because it’s not wearable, but because it’s so extraordinary,” the creative director wrote in the show notes.

The runway featured recurrent elements of Salvador Dali’s work, including sunrises and skeletons. The couture pieces also borrowed the bright brilliant blue of Yves Klein, the sculptural and architectural essence of Giacometti, and the complex brushwork of Lucian Freud. Perhaps a subtler nod to art was the dramatic draping, reminiscent of paint stroke motions, in large skirts and tops. In this journey of introducing surrealist masterpieces into works of couture, Roseberry didn’t forget to include his signature plays on volume, juxtaposing oversized coats and voluminous skirts with structured, body-hugging corsets.

The designer also emphasized the importance of human creativity in an era of technology-fueled “creation.” Roseberry wrapped up his show notes writing, “Going into the unknown, when creative expression and fame feels available to any and all, at least for a moment, we wonder: What can break through? For our Maison, it is the power of design, the power of our artisans, and the power of the human hand at work.”

The Show-stoppers 

The opening look consisted of a black architectural ensemble with protruding swirls jutting out. The black jacket featured contrasting white inserts at the collar and cuffs while the asymmetrical skirt was made of a rigid corset canvas. This monochromatic palette filled up the first chapter of the show. Fast forward, Roseberry showed off an exploration of draping through a voluminous ruched fabric draped across a model’s neck and arms. Her torso was contrastingly cinched in a skeletal corset that connected to a black velvet skirt.

In true Roseberry fashion, mid-show a model donned a ravenous black coat styled with a simple black top and leggings. Letting the extravagant outerwear take center stage, this look was a sultry take on over-the-top volumes. The show also offered the brand’s artisans a chance to show their impeccable craftsmanship through delicate and intricate metal works. This refined craftsmanship was particularly present in a large padded coat, which featured 12,000 tiles of hand-painted mirror-effect leather.

Photo courtesy of Schiaparelli

The Stars

Rosberry’s tribute to the greats didn’t stop at the garments. In fact, the theme extended to the models wearing these couture creations down the runway. Industry icons like Chrystèle Saint Louis Augustin, and Ai Tominaga strutted down the halls of the Palais. Golden girl Magdalena Frackowiak even made a comeback for Schiaparelli! Speaking of returns, Tanya Dziahileva returned to the runway almost a decade after her last catwalk and Sui He made her high-fashion comeback after exclusively walking for Victoria’s Secret. Renowned supermodels from the new generation also took the stage. Mona Tougaard opened the show, while Irina Shayk and Adut Akech also made a runway appearance clad in Roseberry’s masterpieces.

On the other side of the runway — the star-studded front row — Cardi B stole the show dressed in custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture. The singer sported a structured hourglass gown under a turf coat that emulated a feathered texture. The sultry look was elegantly styled with gold dangling earrings that complemented the gold dripping down the gown’s neckline. Another notable guest was Violet Chachki, who sported a lowcut velvet blazer and shorts set, topped off with a tilted geometric hat and gold earrings.

Tapping into Roseberry’s ability to create fresh and contemporary couture pieces, Schiaparelli presented yet another jaw-dropping collection. “… And the artists” marks a rebirth of the brand’s connection with the arts — one that resonates with various demographics and still manages to keep Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy alive.

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