Daniel Roseberry has already proven that he’s a genius haute couture designer. With his autumn-winter 2021 collection for Schiaparelli, he also confirms he knows how to make ready-to-wear a ‘wow’ moment. “I really like the freedom in which Schiap explored things,” Roseberry told Vogue over Zoom. “You know, while Chanel was making buttons made out of double C’s and it was very much an exercise in branding, Schiap’s buttons were peanuts and wrenches and hammers and birds and insects. It’s kind of this referential gymnastics that I feel like we can have here, as long as it feels like part of one world and one language. People know they can go other places for more polite designs.” If Roseberry has more freedom than his creative director predecessors that’s largely down to the fact that Lady Gaga wore his designs at the U.S. inauguration. Overnight, as he put it in the days afterward, Roseberry had a place in fashion history, and the label itself had a new international relevance and cachet. The dove brooch (it reminds the pieces Yves Saint Laurent sent down the runway in his spring-summer 1988 couture collection) that Lady Gaga wore to the inauguration has become a visual trope; it perches on the shoulder of a fitted black minidress among several other surreal bijoux and its outline is painted in black on a white button-down. Instant Insta-favourites are of course all the “body-ornaments”: the breasts and pierced nipples, ears, eyes, noses, and lips – all of it has been cast in gold, moulded in leather, or quilted in wool crepe. “I don’t want to be precious about any part of the body; you know, it’s about kind of celebrating the whole thing,” he said. But Roseberry is no doubt well aware that breasts are a cultural flashpoint. Exploiting that flashpoint, he managed to render all the other designers playing with lingerie and kink this season look tame. The fashion industry urgently needs a provocateur, and Daniel is the ultimate answer.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Schiaparelli and Daniel Roseberry are a match made in heaven. The way the Texas-born designer plays with Elsa Schiaparelli’s codes is so witty and intelligent – and what’s most important, he makes it his and doesn’t try to mimic the maison‘s founder as his predecessors. Spring-summer 2021 couture line-up is his best yet, and truly, it transports the viewer to a wonderland. And since Lady Gaga wore a black fitted jacket, red silk faille ball skirt and a golden dove brooch of his design to sing the national anthem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration last Wednesday, it’s clear more people will pay attention to Roseberry’s magic. “For a house like Schiaparelli,” he told Vogue, “dressing Gaga for the inauguration speaks to capturing the moment. That’s what I’m trying to do with all of our celebrity moments: to nail the zeitgeist.” Daniel’s Schiaparelli is open to big celebrity moments (Kim Kardashian West and Hunter Schafer, for instance), but it also breaks couture conventions and says ‘bye’ to the haute stuffiness once and for all. He’d been pushing the house, which was quite straitlaced before his arrival despite Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous Surrealism, in a new direction. But the eccentricities of his earlier outings were just him warming up. “Ever since I came back from lockdown, there’s been a shift for me mentally here – a focus and confidence that’s come from my relationship to my own process and to the atelier,” he said. Synthesizing his point of view, he added, “it’s just something that’s not as polite as couture typically tends to be.” If there’s one piece that says his incubation period is over, it’s a Madonna and Child breastplate, but there’s no shortage of statement-making bijoux here, from the tooth pearl earrings to the fingernail rings. “It isn’t about being too perfect for me,” Roseberry said, “but it is about shutting the moment down.” On that note, the look book opens with another super-heroine bustier, this one in glossy black finished with a prodigious bow in Schiaparelli’s signature shocking pink. A different dress in the same electric pink hue accentuates not just gym-toned abs, but trapezius muscles and biceps. “If you want to look like a cupcake, you can go somewhere else,” Roseberry said with a laugh before getting serious. “I started thinking, is there something about couture that’s sort of misogynistic, that demands or expects that a woman wants to look hyper-feminine and dainty and ‘Bridgerton’ adjacent?” He clarifies, “It’s not about being a man at all, it’s about being a jacked woman.” A stretch-fabric dress knitted with more than 200,000 Swarovski crystals will appeal to clients whose own well-maintained physiques require no surface-level enhancements. Elsewhere, Roseberry made exuberant use of volume. A black column dress with ample folded sleeves would make a spectacular red carpet dress, but he also designed a couture jean jacket and a couture parka with grand hoods. The contemporary Schiaparelli woman is no longer just an arty party-goer. Now, she’s a goddess, hero, a power-female!
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.
In a pretty short time, Daniel Roseberry has pushed Schiaparelli – a haute couture maison – forward to an extent in which its ready-to-wear line finally makes sense. Roseberry’s flair for the fantastic absolutely works with Elsa Schiaparelli’s aesthetic, and in the spring-summer 2021 line-up he manages to negotiate the balance between the Surrealism that was the legendary designer’s signature and the everyday. Speaking over Zoom, he said he approached the new collection with “a renewed energy to focus on what I want to say here, to capture the irony and what Schiap was about. Her legacy still lives really large, and it feels really true to this moment.” The pandemic has upended fashion. Some designers and brands are sitting this season out or playing it extra safe, counting on pajama sets and tracksuits to carry them through. Not Roseberry. In the look book photos he took himself (it’s interesting that many designers choose to photograph their collections), and in the behind-the-scenes video the brand produced, that extroversion comes across most distinctly in Roseberry’s fabulous gilded jewellery: eyeglasses with enamel eyes in the center, masks that cover nose and mouth, fingertip talons, and even nipple buttons. Those little and big, wearable artworks took Instagram by storm. The clothes are nearly as provocative. See: the white button-down with hand-painted breasts on the front, the odalisque prints on a shocking pink and white pantsuit (studies of Manet and Degas that Roseberry did himself), and the broderie anglaise with Surrealist faces picked out. There’s also a pair of minidresses, one ivory, the other black, with big inverted volumes. Roseberry took no half measures with this collection, and in this time of uncertainty and anxiety, that kind of conviction is a real turn-on – something we’ve experienced as well at Jonathan Anderson’s extraordinary Loewe.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Despite the name Daniel Roseberry gave his autumn-winter 2020 collection for Schiaparelli – the “Dreamer in Daytime” – the designer included some couture-like flourishes for evening, including a stretch-leather bodysuit worn with a full skirt with a cartridge-pleated waistband – athletic and easy to wear – and a silk faille party dress with detachable sleeves. “I love the idea of a modular ball gown,” he explained to the press back in March, reinforcing the idea that these clothes are designed to feel relaxed – “very chill.” And simultaneously precious.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Comparing to his chaotic debut collection last June, Daniel Roseberry‘s take on Schiaparelli for spring-summer 2020 is sublime. S-U-B-L-I-M-E. For this couture line-up, the American designer decided to focus on the “double fantasy” of Elsa Schiaparelli’s style. He began planning the collection by looking at images of Elsa at work in her studio dressed in her inventive, but pragmatic daytime outfits. These he contrasted with “the incredible Surrealist parties that she used to throw – this idea of the woman who dresses for herself during the day but then there’s this duality at night where it becomes performative. I became obsessed with the contradictory personality, the introvert-extrovert idea,” he continued, “trying to embrace those two different extremes and remove all the middle, and do something that feels uniquely Schiap and personal.” Roseberry also looked at the designer’s 1930s friends and collaborators, including the minimalist Deco Moderne furniture and interior designer Jean-Michel Frank (for a daytime palette of cerused oak and parchment that he mixed with navy and cigar brown) and Alberto Giacometti (for the skeletal jewels and rhinestone “bone” embellishments that also referenced Schiaparelli’s own shocking padded jersey skeleton evening dress of 1938). Roseberry has had the opportunity to focus on tailoring (always important in Schiaparelli’s own work) and the collection opened with some stylish options for the couture client who actually works. The “psycho chic” day clothes, as Roseberry described them, morphed into evening pieces that evoked Schiap’s dreams (dreams that his program notes explained “were active, propulsive, exuberant, extravagant, rebellious, ambitious”) and nodded to Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix’s ’80s and ’90s couture work in striking ultramarine, scarlet, viridian, and of course the brand’s own shocking pink. Schiaparelli is finally back on its track. Roseberry is a wonder.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.