If there’s a real sense of return in the air at this season’s haute couture shows, Daniel Roseberry’s collection for Schiaparelli will be its defining memory. Passing through the Petit Palais, each of his looks was as intriguing to the senses as the inspiration behind them. “There’s this word in French for when you’re driving on a cliffside and you have the sudden urge to go off the road. It’s called ‘the call of the void,’” he said during a preview the day before. In French, the term is l’appel du vide and it’s not as hopeless as it sounds. Psychologically, it’s an intrusive thought that affirms our urge to live. “I think that’s what this spaciness felt like to me,” he explained, surrounded by orbital dresses and planetary bags in his Place Vendôme salons. “The void is the absence of this reality.” In times of refuelled space races, missions to Mars, and the metaverse, Roseberry is not alone in looking to galaxies far way. It’s a mindset that comes natural at Schiaparelli where surrealism goes hand-in-hand with existentialism. If you can use the word effortless in haute couture, that’s what Roseberry’s collection felt like: a seamlessly executed idea for a house it was just right for. “We kept saying ‘Planet Schiaparelli’: I wanted to do something that looked totally unlike anybody else. Nothing else should look like this.”
Roseberry exercised his objective in creations forged in the images of the galaxy and the science fiction we relate to it. Quite literally, saturnian brass rings orbited around a black canvas corset bodice woven with black flowers in jacquard, and encircled a gilded metal bustier that wasn’t just for show. Like previous seasons’ breastplates, Schiaparelli will cast them on the client’s body in-house. A Medusa dress debuted a new technique developed for the collection in which wet gold leather had been stretched and moulded over clay sculptures of the house’s emblems-the lock, the lobster, the dove—which had then been latticed into a mind-blowing jeweled cage and encrusted with cabochon stones from the 1930s. A series of structures evoked the movement of jelly fish, which in turn evoked James Cameron’s The Abyss. A matter of exposed crin gathered around the shoulders of a minidress in black silk crepe and bounced like tentacles as the model moved down the runway of the Petit Palais. A similar effect took form around the ankles of a strapless velvet dress, and in the brass tentacles that vibrated around Mariacarla Boscono’s long black jersey dress. Interestingly, if you removed the science fiction elements, you’d be left with a series of sophisticated black dresses more lightly imbued with what Roseberry referred to as “aerodynamic” details, like the stretched-out neckline of Kiki Wilhelm’s black twill bustier.
That sense of simplicity was the intention. After a year of celebrity exposure that has catapulted Roseberry’s look for Schiaparelli into the consciousness of a new audience he wanted to pull back. “Let’s take a deep breath and start refining the language,” he’d told his team. “How do we illicit the same emotional response that we get from the couture without volume and without color?” It’s why – stripped to their core – his little dresses and jackets were almost down-to-earth in a collection literally based on the opposite. It was a clever way for Roseberry to unite anticipations for Schiaparelli grandeur with expectations for something new. Of course, Roseberry isn’t dialing down on exposure. The day before the show he had fitted Julia Fox in a denim cone bra jacket to wear to the Kenzo show with Kanye West. The new couple also attended Roseberry’s show, with West in one of his masks that completely covered his face looking as existentially stirring as the collection itself. Maybe it’s Roseberry’s genuine affinity for pop culture that makes his haute couture feel so fresh. In its fusion of stupefying craftsmanship, splendor, and consistent sense of humor, the show kind of evoked a time when the likes of Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Thierry Mugler – may he rest in peace – opened Paris’s eyes to a different kind of fashion theater.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.