The Haute Couture shows in Paris have just finished and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed this time – many collections were boring and rather leaning towards pret-à-porter rather than haute couture. But there were some collections which stood out and Daniel Roseberry, yet again, managed to save the couture week. With “Schiaparelien” the creative director of Maison Schiaparelli travelled to space. Online outrage was guaranteed – and not justified at all. If people took more time to learn about the collection instead of just focussing on snippets on social media, Roseberry’s message would become very clear.
Let’s not forget – haute couture not only stands for high quality, and expensive designs and craftsmanship, it means unusual fabrics, attention to detail and innovation. Moreover, haute couture is the closest link between fashion and art. Roseberry not only applies an artistic approach, he also manages to find the right balance between the heritage and codes of the Maison and his own design language. Furthermore, since he started to work for Schiaparelli in 2019, he has successfully managed to bring the brand to the 21st century without being too literal with the brands codes. Let’s dive into the details of the collection.
You can also watch my video here:
Inspiration for the “Schiaparelien” Collection:
Schiaparelli and Roseberry call the collection one of contradictions. The name “Schiaparelien” (in French; “Schiaparellian” in English) may be a bit confusing at first, but there is a reason for it. The main theme is the dynamic between Earth and what the “heaven-sent”, which in this case is extraterrestrial creatures, aliens. This theme has not been chosen by chance. It points back to Elsa Schiaparelli herself who had a big passion for astrology and astronomy. Her uncle Giovanni was the director of the Brera Observatory in Milan and he not only discovered some landscapes on Mars, he also was the one coining the term “martian”. The interest for space obviously ran in the family. Hence, “Schiaparellian” is a play on this term “martian” and reflects the extraterrestrial theme.
Schiaparelli turned her interest for the stars into her famous “Zodiac Collection” in 1938 including the famous cape with embroidered sun rays in the back featuring the god Apollon in the centre. She also designed a blue jacket zodiac and celestial motifs which was recently reissued by the brand.
Roseberry builds on Schiaparelli’s interest and this collection and explained that he aimed at showing contradictions: “legacy and avant-garde” (or the past and the future), beauty and provocation and what he calls as “earthbound and the heaven-sent”. Needless to say, all of these work along the credo of Schiaparelli herself – “shocking” is a term which is closely related to Elsa Schiaparelli. She not only wanted to create beautiful garments, but she also wanted to be provocative. Roseberry obviously managed to provoke with this collection – the online outrage was big. created garments – and “objects” as we will see later – made of familiar parts but when these parts are put together, they are something new and unexpected.
The collection reflected the contradiction between the past and the future by creating garments and “objects” (as will be seen further down) made of familiar parts from the past which form something new and unexpected when put together. Technology plays an important role representing the past and the future at the same time. Legacy and avant-garde was reflected in combining techniques such as heavily embroidered laces or velvet with modern or avant-garde shapes and patterns.
In addition to the Schiaparelli codes such as the padlock, the keyhole, the mouth or other anatomical body parts, there are elements pointing at Roseberry himself. The designer is originally from Texas and there are many references to his home state: for example, cowboy boots or belts with the typical buckles, the bandana, the horse braid dressage knots and fringes. It is very risky to merge these two worlds without making it look like fancy dress, but this subtle combination worked really well for this show. (Can you tell that I am a Roseberry-fan?)
Analysis of the Looks
Exaggerated Shapes, Texas & Easter Eggs
Already the first look made it clear that this is a Schiaparelli-collection and the black vinyl dress with extreme structures reflected the two designers and juxtaposed the past and the present: On the one hand, Elsa Schiaparelli loved exaggerated shapes and structures. On the other, the shoulders could be a reference to horseback riding saddles, which would then point at Roseberry and Texas. This reference is also taken up in the shoes: cowboy-inspired mules mixed with the signature “S” of the brand. When you look closely, you can see the padlock, a code of the Maison, on the intricate lace collar.
Look 3 is this beautiful velvet dress with a very high collar. It is stunning but also causes some kind of uneasy feeling – very Schiaparelli, and also very extra-terrestrial. Could this be life form from another planet?
Look 4 was the first Texan interpretation and there are some “Easter eggs”: the buckles are clearly cowboy-inspired at first sight, but the gold details represent the Schiaparelli codes: the eye and a heart shape. This is Roseberry’s strength – it seems to come naturally how he merges the heritage of the brand with his own design elements. It does not feel forced at all.
Unjustified Outrage on Social Media – The Inspiration Goes Much Deeper
One of the looks creating a lot of discussion online was a sheer mesh corset – from the front, it looked very elegant, but from the back it was a true shocker: the model wore an exoskeleton structure. It incorporated everything – the contradiction of elegance and avant-garde, the past and the future (Schiaparelli herself was very interested in anatomical body parts and the structure itself looked very futuristic), the juxtaposition of beauty and provocation.
And speaking of outrage online, also the following two looks were heavily discussed. The first one was quite a simple outfit – an off-white tank top with inside out trousers with horsehair appliqué stripes. But Roseberry shocked everyone with the life-sized doll carried by the model – it looked like a robot or an alien creature.
The doll was taken one step further by the following look, which is probably the most discussed of the show, the “Robot Dress”. Like the doll, the dress is made up of technical components. Roseberry explained that he grew up in the times before smartpohnes and many other devices which we consider normal today. The dress was made of upcycled hardware from before the year 2007: motherboards, chips, computer fans, calculators, flip phones, CDs. As I mentioned in my article about Y2K fashion trends, the early 2000s were all about the future, about technology. This is exactly what this dress references. At the same time, it is made of parts which are almost two decades old, but put together, they form a futuristic artwork.
The dress polarized, some people criticised that you would not be able to sit in this dress or how would you clean it. But one important point is that we are talking here about an haute couture show. And haute couture is not always about wearability, it is also fashion’s link to art. I found it really cool. Like Roseberry, I remember these devices and the effect of the dress with the glitter takes me back to the early 2000s, our obsession with the future and technology and of course the glitter trend. Furthermore, the dress is a link to this outer space topic as well. Do you remember the Pixar movie WALL-E who works on the landfill and collects all the old tech devices? I somehow immediately thought of this as well.
And when we speak of shocking looks, the “Creature Dress” was probably the creepiest of the collection. It was paired with a matching balaclava mask with false eyelashes and hair which were hand painted and made from resin. The structure of the dress reminds of fish scales or reptiles. Again, this could be an alien, it is a creature we do not know – is this a “Schiaparellian”? The only familiar, or “earthbound” element is the Schiaparelli keyhole. The shoes in nude imitating the toes add to this uneasy feeling. Can we unlock this creature? Or does it unlock another universe?
Three ensembles and Zendaya’s outfit (who attended as a guest) incorporated some 3D structures which gave room for a lot of interpretation – some people even claimed they had a sexual dimension to them. However, these were faux horse braid dressage knots – a Texan reference.
Heaven-Sent Screens and Structures
Another element worth noting are the screens. Roseberry created two beautiful ensembles with lace screens. This is another juxtaposition of the past and the future expressed by techniques and shapes: Schiaparelli created futuristic shapes with an “old” material – lace. Moreover, it reflects the dimension “heaven-sent”. At first sight, the shapes look futuristic, they could be alien creatures as well. But the lace structure stands for something rather angelic, almost etherial. Lace also represents innocence. We could be seeing angels on the runway – the lace structure being their wings.
And yet there is another beautiful detail hidden in the screens: almost invisible from afar, but a closer look reveals that the lace pattern is made of Schiaparellian codes such as the padlock, the eye, or the keyhole.
The sculptured dress (left in the picture above) was another highlight: first of all, the colour is beautiful and very flattering. Furthermore, the exaggerated shape fits so well into this alien theme. Needless to say, you probably have to be more courageous to wear this, but that is Schiaparelli after all. Similar to the lace screens, Roseberry hid the codes of the Maison on the side. Furthermore, the makeup needs to be pointed out here: the makeup artists did a great job of adding the extraterrestrial touch without turning the models into zombies.
Roseberry took up this structure in two further looks: The black ensemble with cream embroidery, fringes and bandana was a hybrid of Schiaparellian elegance and Texas. The other black ensemble was the most reduced interpretation of this shape – the fringes are yet another Texas reference, but much more subtle.
Most Obvious References on Elsa Schiaparelli
Elsa Schiaparelli was famous for her trompe l’oeil effects – already her first collection included trompe l’oeil elements such as bows on knitwear. Roseberry’s sequinned dress creates the illusion of boxer shorts.
In 1938, Schiaparelli created the “Skeleton Dress” with artist Salvador Dalí – a reflection of her interest in anatomical parts. This 2024 version is a clear reference, without being too literal. At first, the fringes may seem to serve a functional purpose: to form an interesting surface for the skeleton and to add movement. However, these fringes are a subtle Roseberry and Texan touch. The geometric earring with turtle motif is another reference to Elsa Schiaparelli herself who often designed animal-shaped accessories.
As I mentioned before, one of Roseberry’s strengths is the subtle nods to Elsa Schiaparelli herself. The upper part of the velvet dress appears to be an asymmetric pattern at first, but a closer look reveals the bow-shaped bra – another Schiaparelli code.
“Reduced” Looks – Schiaparelli Will Always Make its Wearer Stand out in the Crowd
Ultimately, also haute couture needs to be sold and Roseberry knows that he cannot only work along the artistic spectrum. Therefore, the collection also involves more reduced, more “wearable” looks. Nevertheless, we need to keep one thing in mind here: Our eyes are now used to the shocking and more extreme designs of the collection. Therefore, these looks at the end of the collection feel very much reduced. But imaging wearing these to a ball or another formal event, you would still very much stand out of the crowd.
The last look was a kind of summary of the whole collection – the alien shape, the extra-terrestrial references (also reflected in the accessories – the sphere ring in this case); it is avant-garde but the colour, texture and style of the embroidery could very well be from the 1920s. The dress is heavily embroidered with silver sequins, crystals, rhinestones and also small tassels. Again, the silver and embroidery add something ethereal to it. It looks stunning and was a perfect end of the show. Chapeau, Monsieur Roseberry!