Haute Couture AW20: Schiaparelli

COMMENCING an enthrallingly different yet innovative start to couture week, Schiaparelli opted to tease its latest AW20 couture collection with a sublime curation of sketches drawn by the House’s creative director Daniel Roseberry during lockdown.

Following from Bertand Guyon’s departure last year, Roseberry sought to capture the essence of Elsa Schiaparelli’s avant-garde vision and whimsical spirit, who saw the world through lenses of chaos, hope and turbulence, by posing the very question on the House’s Instagram page: “How do we dress for the end of the world?”.

Although Roseberry could never have predicted the extent of the coronavirus pandemic today, where the dynamics of modern life are drawn to a sudden standstill, his once minor muses are now significantly relevant than ever before, extending far beyond the exteriors of fashion.

Renowned for quintessentially shaping the boundaries of Haute Couture since 1954, founder Elsa Schiaparelli’s creative heritage continues to echo within the walls of the House’s Place Vendôme atelier in Paris, which remains out of bounds in light of the pandemic.

With Haute Couture proving almost impossible to develop while in quarantine, Roseberry insisted that “imagination, and the drive to create, has never been more relevant, or more profound”, choosing to utilise his creative flair on a bench in Washington Square Park and produce the “collection imaginaire” in place of a physical presentation.

The resulting sketches were so well-received in Paris that it was decided that they would be presented on a made-to-order basis for globally valued clients and stylists, with every hope and intention of showcasing a capsule collection of the designs in Los Angeles in December.

Deliberately averting from qualities considered classic and timeless, Roseberry’s designs reflect Schiaparelli’s chaotic, fanciful vision with details both eccentric and disproportionate, such as a dress that dangles low from a beaded necklace, hairstyles that resemble the shape of a heel, and ensembles that parallel with the textures of a dog’s coat.

Elements of surrealism can be seen in many of the sketches featured in the video, a theme that has recurred prominently in previous seasons for the House of Schiaparelli, in addition to lavish volumes and rich and vibrant hues, such as electric blue and the shocking pink that drew the SS20 show to an exciting yet signature close.

Although the crisis has certainly affected the man at the creative helm of Schiaparelli, he confessed that his experience in isolation has been “privileged, but nothing extraordinary”, in a nod of acknowledgement that all of us have a uniquely individual lockdown story to share.

In the words of Roseberry, “Elsa’s commitment to the surreal, her fascination with inverting our everyday reality, has never been more timely.”

by Cara Jenkins