Monday 5 July 2021

Paris Haute Couture: Daniel Roseberry's Sumptuous Surrealism at Schiaparelli

Daniel Roseberry's model muse Maggie Maurer wears his matador-inspired gold hat embroidered with crystals and pearls and bugle-bead encrusted jacket with a neckline shaped like two doves.

American designer Daniel Roseberry has created another dramatic and engaging haute couture collection for Maison Schiaparelli in Paris. His prodigious jewels and voluminous silhouettes command attention and elicit delight. The couturier marries the artistic avant-garde, integral to the history of the fashion house, with his modern and irreverent sensibility, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Surrealist silver tromp l'oeil 
bustier worn with a 
black-fringed cape
DANIEL Roseberry's new haute couture collection for Schiaparelli is full of the Surrealist and experimental ideas that have always been a signature of the maison. Yet this is only the American designer's fourth season and his work has already made a significant impact not only on the House of Schiaparelli but on French couture. Lady Gaga even chose him to design her dress to perform at President Biden's inauguration in January.

The couturier's monumental, sculptural jewels and exuberant gowns and jackets are designed to arouse an emotional response and to make his work impossible to ignore or forget. Roseberry imagines each of the twenty-six looks as magazine covers and asks himself if they are visually striking enough to make the cut. 

Growing up in a Texan family of devoted Episcopalian ministers, his work is influenced by the ritual, grandeur and the garb of church ceremony. And although this may seem an unlikely background for a couturier at a storied French fashion house in Paris, he has galvanized the best of its European history and combined this with his American can-do-anything dynamism. 

Roseberry's ten years with outré American designer Thom Browne in New York also appears to have been a good grounding for heading a conceptual fashion label. At Schiaparelli, Roseberry's aim is to create impudent and modern designs with what he describes as a "barbaric" ethos all while using the talents and traditions of couture to make beautiful clothes. This is the first season, he says, that he has fallen in love with couture. For this collection, he was drawn to haute couture's most extravagant era in the Eighties and Nineties, using richly embellished embroidery and jewellery.

The designer's giant, sculptural bijoux and voluminous gowns are designed to arouse an emotional response and to make his work impossible to forget

Eighties matador with
silk sleeves embellished
with blue and gold eyes
"For two years, I’ve been saying that I didn’t care about nostalgia," Daniel Roseberry explains. "This season, though, it’s where it all started. I found myself wondering, again and again: what if you combined a little Manet; a little Lacroix; a little 1980s; a little 1880s; a little matador; a little space alien; a little Ingres; a little shimmer; a lot of color? Could I do it? And what would it look like?"

Eventually he decided to call this fourth couture collection, Matador Couture, and it is one that he says honors Elsa Schiaparelli's vision but isn't in a thrall to it. 

"If last season was about deconstruction, about pushing past the boundaries of what couture was, about trying to upend all its unspoken rules, about doing things we weren't 'supposed' to do; this season, I felt the freedom to make something fiercely, undeniably, unapologetically pretty ~ because sometimes you have to rebel against beauty in order to return to it."

The first look in the collection (see at right) is like an Eighties matador wearing a Basque jacket with exaggerated arms in Mikado satin and silks. The gold-thread embroidery, inspired by the Schiaparelli archives, includes ceramic blue eyes, gold pearls and rhinestones set against ochre and pink silk. The trousers are stretch lambskin in gold lamé and black. The dome-shaped hat is created from metalized perspex and has a quilted Shocking Pink satin lining. 

Roseberry says that a year ago he felt like he was designing for the apocalypse with the pandemic casting its sombre shadow across the world. But today he feels like we have survived and fashion will continue to thrive. The new collection, he says, represents a return to innocence and the joy that drove him to work in fashion.

"What if you combined a little Manet, a little Lacroix, a little 1980s, a little 1880s, a little matador, a little space alien, a little Ingres, a little shimmer and a lot of color?"

White denim cropped
jacket with embroidery
and Jet beading
"A year ago, I felt like I was designing for the end of the world," he says. "But the world didn’t end. We’re still here. Fashion is still here. Couture is still here. And not only is it still here, but in a world increasingly reliant on the easily replicable and the digitally disseminated, its power ~ to stop you in your tracks ~is greater than ever."

Roseberry explains that he wanted to return to the fashion he loved as a youth. "Blind nostalgia isn’t healthy: we can’t romanticize the past, especially when, for so many groups of people, the past wasn’t romantic at all. 

"But the gift of fashion is its ability to allow us to pretend, and that is its promise as well; if we dream hard enough, maybe we can will that beautiful past into existence." 

The latest collection was designed in three parts, with the first paying tribute to Schiaparelli jackets of the past, such as the iconic shapes of the white denim matador-inspired cropped jacket embellished with embroidered barrel sleeves and black silk tassels, worn over a structured tulle skirt (see above).

The short zipped jacket is embroidered with hand-crafted fringes and black rope fishnet embroidery while Jet beads trace the three-dimensional trompe l’oeil breasts in black resin and fabric. The swirling cords are created with black glass beads and pompons. The jacket is worn with the white tulle skirt edged in black and a wide-brimmed sombrero-style hat made from black Duchesse silk. Decorated with pearls and black Swarovski crystals, the hat rim is strung with small, hanging pompoms. Finishing the look are black satin mules adorned with Roseberry's signature golden toes with silver nails.

"A year ago, I felt like I was designing for the end of the world. But the world didn’t end. We’re still here. Fashion is still here. Couture is still here."

Pink silk roses and black wool
crepe mini-dress inspired
by Jean Cocteau
"This collection is unapologetically emotional, as giddy as falling in love. It is also a tribute to romance, to excess, to dreams, because really, is there anything more urgent today than dreaming big?" Roseberry asks. "Than dreaming of a better world? Of grabbing every piece of beauty with both hands?"

As a homage to an Art Deco evening coat designed by Jean Cocteau for Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937, Roseberry has created a black-wool crepe, curved-sleeved creation, heavily embroidered with dozens of shell-pink silk roses (see at right).

The wool dress has a black duchess satin embroidered in pink silk taffeta that refers to the original piece in the Schiaparelli archives. A turban in black felt and patent leather is worn around the head and over the ears. It is designed to mimic a scarf with two pieces of upturned fabric.

Roseberry's fashion manifesto is to bring new ideas and a flagrant beauty to his work. "Give me more beauty, more earnestness, more romance, more effort," he exclaims. "I hope this collection reminds everyone of the sheer delight that fashion can bring us in hard times, and with it, the promise of more joy when the clouds part."

He sees his work as being in conversation with Elsa Schiaparelli's most imaginative creations from the 1930s. The new collection uses Lesage, the same company she employed, to create the lavish embroideries also utilizing the the same techniques and materials. Even the first matador look is made of vintage Schiaparelli swatches that were collaged together. 

"This collection is unapologetically emotional, as giddy as falling in love. It is a tribute to romance, to excess, to dreams, because is there anything more urgent today than dreaming big?"

A Dadaist piece of
jewellery designed 
as human lungs
The second part of the collection focuses on the body and bijoux, as jewellery is a key element of the house’s visual vocabulary. The designer describes it as being a dialogue between hard and soft, machine and human, metal and fabric. 

"For example, the delicate pair of human lungs, seemingly crafted from a web of capillaries dipped in gold, worn atop severe black crepe gown," he explains (see at right). 

The long-sleeved dress is in wool crepe with a low-cut neckline. This is designed to reveal the gilded brass necklace in the shape of trompe l’oeil lungs. And these are further adorned with sparkling rhinestones, creating a Surrealist piece that also looks like branches or roots of a tree. 

For the designer, the jewels become the flamboyant embroidery. He uses all of the Schiaparelli tropes such as the nose, pairs of lips and ceramic eyes, made by hand in the fashion house’s Giacometti-inspired gold. The evocative and amusing accessories include a minaudiere shaped like a giant pair of lips and a striking and sleek belt clasp with a cast hand that appears to hug the wearer. 

Roseberry has used many upcycled materials for the collection, making each creation a one-off. A look created from a gilt body sculpture of flowers was made by artist Michel Carel and took several months to finish. The colour palette of the collection is equally bold mixing pink, lavender, cornflower blue, ochre and Elsa Schiaparelli's signature Shocking Pink. A black stretch velvet dress featuring a vivid pink silk faille rose (see below) links the brilliance and creativity of the Schiaparelli founder with Roseberry's contemporary take on Surrealism.

Short film in Paris at Schiaparelli's Place Vendome ateliers showing the new AW21 collection

Highlights from Schiaparelli's Autumn/Winter 2021 Haute Couture Collection by Daniel Roseberry 

Long-sleeved midi dress in stretch black velvet with a bateau neckline. Oversized flower petals in pink silk faille for a trompe l’oeil effect. Long earrings are in gilded and silver brass in the shape of a small flower and a large flower with suspended small black and white pearls. Black satin pumps with silk faille bows are adorned with golden toes bearing silver nails.

Handcrafted gilded brass jewellery bustier in the shape of a bouquet of flowers. Long skirt draped in black silk faille with coordinating stole.

Coat in mirrored silver calfskin. The waist is enhanced by a belt with a trompe l’oeil hand jewelry buckle, one in gold metal and the other in silver metal. The bag, in silvery smooth calfskin, is embroidered with pearl and gold Swarovski crystals. 

Bustier jewellery in epoxy gold and silver metal in shapes of body parts and animals to form a cross. Denim pants are embroidered with gold strass and gold thread while eyes are in resin. A jewel bag in gilded brass takes the form of a flower with a mouth in the middle. Black lamb d'orsay pumps adorned with gold toes with silver nails.

Short fitted coat in vintage leather patchwork with voluminous sleeves. The coat is closed with an offset zip on the right side, while the front is adorned with trompe l’oeil gilded brass jewel buttons in anatomical elements, including eyes and ears.

Fitted zipped jacket with exaggerated sleeves made from vintage denim jeans are embroidered with gold strass and thread, and rhinestones. Designs take shape in anatomical elements in resin, including nipples, eyes, mouths, and breasts. Embroidery includes three-dimensional padded flowers using lamé work, gold bulges, strass and beads. Spiral-cut breasts are made from gold lambskin. Leather stirrups in black stretch lambskin. A lip clutch with a removable chain is made from gilded brass with the interior in Shocking Pink. 

Fitted Basque jacket with exaggerated arms in various Mikado silks, satin, and faille weaves. Embroidery techniques are inspired by the Schiaparelli archives and include traditional volute in gold strass, gold pearls, rhinestones, lurex thread, multicolored thread embroidery in ochre silk faille, embroidered with gold thread spindle stretch lambskin in bi-colored lamé and black. Dome-shaped hat in vucum metalized perspex with quilted Shocking Pink satin lining. Black satin pumps with silk faille bows adorned with golden toes bearing silver nails.

Dress in black wool crepe with a yellow silk belt at the waist, topped with an exaggerated bubbled top in silver metallic eel. Gilded brass earrings in the shape of eyes with a large white plastic pearl as the pupil. Attached is a nose adorned with a septum piercing from which hangs a drop-shaped tassel with a white plastic bead.

 Long bubble dress in mauve taffeta with balloon sleeves. Worn with a shoulder bust in mirrored silver epoxy resin.

Mini dress in black silk chiffon with hangs by the stem of a gilded metal rod in the shape of a flower. Black satin mules adorned with golden toes bearing silver nails.

Denim pants are embroidered with gold strass and gold thread while eyes are in resin. Black lamb d'orsay pumps adorned with gold toes bearing silver nails.

Denim pants are embroidered with gold strass and gold thread while eyes are in resin. A jewel bag in gilded brass takes the form of a flower with a mouth in the middle. 

Strapless dress in wool crepe with a plunging heart-shaped neckline. Entirely lined with a pleated silk lurex made by hand for an exaggerated bubbled volume effect that redefines the dimensions of the silhouette.

Thigh-high boots in white stretch lambskin with a silver swirl platform are adorned with golden toes bearing silver nails.

Midi sheath dress in wool crepe, molded on an artisanal metal structure with fabric gazelle horns extending from the shoulders.Embroidered with filigree lamé thread, gold pearls, gold cut beads, handmade gold pompoms, and Swarovski rhinestones. Two trompe l’oeil nipple buttons are in gilded brass. A galette hat, made from black wool crepe, is embroidered with pearls and gold Swarovski crystals

Long dress in black wool crepe with a trompe l’oeil mouth bustier in orange silk with a matching train. Dangling earrings in gilded brass are composed of an eye with an iris in turquoise resin, a nose with a piercing from which hang two eyes in purple resin, and a mouth painted in red resin.

Strapless wedding dress in ivory silk taffeta with exaggerated volume created from hand-crafted pleating. The bustier is embroidered with rhinestones from pieces of hand-cut glass mirrors that are painted for an antique effect. Gilded brass earrings in the shape of a cross are formed by three teeth adorned with silver drops. 

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