Schiaparelli Spring 23 PFW Couture Show

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Words: Ellie Griffith (She/Her)

It’s the end of January, and Paris’s usually dull streets have been transformed into urban catwalks for celebrities and influencers alike. The city’s spring-summer couture week, a week full of fashion shows, parties, and celebs-galore, has commenced. Perhaps the most talked about event of all was the reveal of Schiaparelli’s new couture collection, created by American designer Daniel Roseberry. 

Schiaparelli has never been one to shy away from making a statement, and this was no exception. The show got underway with classically feminine dresses and Schiaparelli’s signature gold embellishments – keyhole motifs, oversized jewellery, and the legendary Anatomy bag. But it wasn’t long before models entered the runway sporting more unconventional garments. Guests were first shocked by a white leopard dress, taxidermy head and all. This was followed by a black maxi dress adorned with a full-sized lion head and, finally an oversized, black fur wolf-head coat. These faux-taxidermy designs appeared rather absurd, but they were not without meaning. For this collection, Roseberry took inspiration from a classic literary work, Dante’s Inferno, the first instalment of The Divine Comedy. In Dante’s work, the symbols of the leopard, lion, and wolf represent lust, pride, and greed, respectively, perhaps picked up by Roseberry in order to make a statement on the fashion world and the issues housed within it. The fine craftsmanship of the hand-built creatures also allowed Roseberry to denounce, to his fellow designers and the industry as a whole, the vanity of animal exploitation for the production of fur when faux fur can be used to create equally effective, or better, pieces. 

Another unmissable feature of this collection was the juxtaposition formed between hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine silhouettes. A number of looks embraced broad shoulders – creating a wider, more powerful frame – alongside the quintessential pinstripe suit and tuxedo. These styles, traditionally seen in menswear collections, were in stark contrast to the hyper-femininity also on display. Such looks combined corsetry work, pleated skirts, and tightly defined waistlines, the latter of which may have been a nod to the hourglass shape of Elsa Schiaparelli’s iconic Shocking! Perfume bottle. This masculine/feminine contrast was caricature-like, bringing an element of playfulness to the show. This is a side of fashion that Elsa Schiaparelli herself had always enjoyed, starting from her early work with surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali, Jean Arp, and Jean Cocteau. Roseberry has continued to pay homage to Schiaparelli and her surrealist collaborators, even making direct references to their work in the spring-summer couture show, including the bronze bust and pearl plastron. 

But the runway wasn’t the only thing drawing attention to the show. A number of celebrity guests in attendance also caught people’s eye. The standout of the event was Doja Cat, making headlines in her all-red, custom Schiaparelli ensemble, a look topped off with over thirty-thousand scarlet Swarovski crystals from her head right down to her fingertips. The striking look, titled Doja’s Inferno, was a collaboration between Roseberry, stylist Brett Alan Nelson, and renowned celebrity makeup artist Pat McGrath. Kylie Jenner, of the Kardashian clan, was another to make a memorable appearance. She arrived at the show dressed in the now-labelled ‘lion dress’, which was yet to be debuted on the very runway she was attending. To wear an unreleased piece to its own unveiling is unheard-of and frankly astonishing to see. 

Commenting on the spring-summer couture collection, Roseberry announced, ‘With this collection, I wanted to step away from techniques I was comfortable with and understood, to choose instead that dark wood, where everything is scary but new, where I would be feeling my way through someplace, I didn’t know and didn’t understand.’ Hopefully, this desire for the unknown will be a recurring approach to his work at Schiaparelli, having produced such exceptional results in this instance. He was able to present new concepts while maintaining the core of the esteemed fashion house, honouring Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy. If this show proves anything, it is that the possibilities are infinite as we look to the future of Schiaparelli.  


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