Thursday, 16 July 2020

Daniel Roseberry: Schiaparelli and the Avant-Garde

One of Daniel Rosesberry's sketches done in New York's Washington Square Park during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Maison Schiaparelli's Daniel Roseberry is the first American to head an established Paris-based couture house. The young, bearded Texan took over as artistic director, after more than a decade at the exuberant hothouse of Thom Browne. For the first digital haute couture week, a video showed the designer sketching his Collection Imaginaire during lockdown in New York. We look at the origins of this famously avant-garde fashion house and it's flamboyant Italian aristocrat founder. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Artistic director of Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry,
drawing in Washington Square Park 
during lockdown.
MAISON SCHIAPARELLI traditionally opens Paris Haute Couture Week and this season when all the live shows were replaced by online presentations, the house showed a short film featuring creative director Daniel Roseberry sketching a new collection.

It was one of the very few engaging videos from this first digital Paris fashion schedule. Many of the films for both couture and Paris Men's Fashion Week were irrelevant and lacklustre, without a story to tell, and often unwatchable. A fashion designer, a film director does not make. This digital season demonstrated that live, theatrical runway shows are still the most effective way to bring new fashion and innovative designs to life

During the Covid-19 lockdown in Paris, Schiaparelli decided to close its Paris atelier to protect its staff. Meanwhile Daniel Roseberry was stuck in New York for three months, after what he thought would be a brief visit to the United States. He couldn't see his French colleagues in person or leave to work in the Paris atelier. He ended up sketching out his new Haute Couture collection on a bench in Washington Square Park, on a Monday morning before Paris Fashion Week opened. The “imaginary collection” was designed for a season that was impossible to produce but his sketches have inspired designs that will be made-to-order.

"On June 29th, 2020, I woke up early, got ready in my New York apartment on 12th street, put on my mask and headed outside to face another day of life in quarantine," the designer explains. "Three months ago I was marooned in New York while taking a quick trip back to the States. Since then I have been living in isolation while Maison Schiaparelli took a hiatus.

Daniel Roseberry was marooned in New York for three months after what he thought would be a brief visit to the United States. 

One of the designs created  for
Daniel Roseberry's AW2021
couture collection.
"Everyone has their own lockdown story, some harrowing, some tragic, some utterly lonely. The luckiest of us have been able to spend this time in nature, far removed from city life. My own experience was shared with millions of other Manhattanites: it was privileged, but nothing extraordinary. What was extraordinary, however, was the ability to walk into Washington Square Park on a Monday morning and sketch out a Haute Couture collection."

The designer believes our lives have changed with COVID-19 but he thinks that imagination, the drive to create, has been even more important. The new collection is a tribute to the creative impulse. "Imagination and dreams can be profound, but they are even more so when they guide us into action. Without putting our dreams into practice, these abstractions would be denied their ultimate power," he says.

Roseberry was inspired by the original founder of the Paris-based fashion house, the Italian aristocrat Elsa Schiaparelli, who was born at the Corsini palace in Rome. Her father was the director of the Lincei library and a professor of Oriental literature and she grew up in a family of aristocrats and intellectuals.

From the beginning of her career in London and New York, she delighted in experimentation, the avant-garde and the Surrealist artists who influenced her designs for her atelier, later established in Paris. "The new AW2021 collection has many tributes to her work and her obsessions,"  says Roseberry, "but done in my way, on new terms."

Schiaparelli brought art to fashion and fashion to art when she founded her Paris fashion house in 1927. The fusion of fine art and fashion brought famous clients, including Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Lauren Bacall, Gala Dali, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Marlene Dietrich and the Duchess of Windsor. Schiaparelli was a contemporary and rival of Coco Chanel and was one of the most inventive designers in the history of fashion.

From the beginning of her career, Elsa Schiaparelli delighted in experimentation, the avant-garde and Surrealist artists 

Avant-garde fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli
in her Paris atelier. By 1932, the couture house,
was called “Schiaparelli: Pour le Sport, Pour la Ville, 
Pour le Soir”. 

She introduced runway shows, made the first jumpsuits, culottes and women's shorts and was so innovative that she was the first female fashion designer to be featured on the cover of Time, the American weekly magazine, in 1934.

The following year the couture house moved to bigger premises and took over the Hotel de Fontpertuis at 21 Place Vendôme. This demonstrates how Schiaparelli's success had grown. The building had five floors, 98 rooms, and more than 700 employees with a boutique overlooking the Vendôme column.

During the 1930s, Schiaparelli worked with Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. She and Dali collaborated on many Surrealist fashion designs and Jean Cocteau's drawings featured on clothing and jewellery. There were many artistic creations that were in the anarchic Dada spirit with a men’s fragrance bottle in the shape of a pipe (inspired by Magritte), gloves with red python nails and a Lucite necklace encrusted with insects.

During the 1930s, Schiaparelli worked with Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau on fashion designs, perfume and jewellery

Daniel Roseberry is inspired by
Elsa Schiaparelli's Surrealism
with this shoe-shaped 
hair style. 
Elsa Shiaparelli's friendships with Dali and Cocteau led to some of her most iconic pieces, that are part of the fashion canon today, including: the lobster dress with Dali's painting on the skirt, the famous shoe hat (a version appears in Roseberry's drawings, at left) the skeleton dress with it's prominent ribs and backbone, knitted sweaters with trompe-l’oeil bows and neckties that were a runaway success in America, as well as the original "power" suit with with wide shoulders and embroidered lip-shaped pockets.

By 1954, following the austerities of World War II, Elsa Schiaparelli closed both the haute couture and pret-a-porter labels. It wasn't until Italian businessman, Diego Della Valle, chairman of luxury goods group Tod’s, acquired Schiaparelli in 2006 that the house was reborn. Della Valle even waited another six years for the lease at the designer’s original atelier in central Paris to be free again.

By 2012, the couture house had reopened at the Hôtel de Fontpertuis, Place Vendôme, at the very place where Elsa left it. Two years later, the first Haute Couture runway show since 1954 was presented during Paris Haute Couture week. By 2017, Schiaparelli was awarded the official Haute Couture label by the French Ministry of Industry and the French Couture Federation.

Daniel Roseberry says he is inspired by the history of the Schiaparelli fashion house, founded on inventiveness and ideas rather than just making beautiful clothes. When he took the reins of Schiaparelli last year, he said it was an "honor and joy to pick up where Madame Schiaparelli left off some 85 years ago.” He loves the idea of exploring the nature of fashion today, as Elsa Schiaparelli had done in her own era, and believes the Surrealist sensibility is particularly suited to the strange times we are living though now.

"Life today is lived according to opposites; the pandemic has inverted everything we knew," Daniel Roseberry says. "Now, instead of a team to execute this collection, I just have my own imagination. Instead of the Place Vendome in Paris, it’s been designed and sketched on a park bench." Now the designer has been able to venture back to Paris and these designs will be handed to the Atelier.

The House of Schiaparelli was founded on inventiveness and was always about ideas rather than just making beautiful clothes

A dress is draped from a long necklace
that falls in elegant folds that have 
the signature Schiaparelli
innovation & whimsy.
Daniel Roseberry was born in Texas and began his fashion career when he moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before he had even finished his degree, he had already starting working at Thom Browne, a New York City-based brand. For the last five years he was the design director of men’s and women’s collections. He was named artistic director of Schiaparelli following the departure of Bertrand Guyon in April 2019. 

When he began as artistic director of the house, a film crew followed Roseberry for 10 months after his move from the United States to Paris, for a documentary called Schiaparelli: The Next Chapter. He was filmed  making his second couture collection for the house and it gives a fascinating insight into the ateliers, the creation of a haute couture collection and the couturier's method.

Elsa Schiaparelli's iconoclasm has inspired Roseberry to design collections that both recall the artistic roots of the house and bring a contemporary, sporty aesthetic to the clothes while still maintaining a dreamy,  otherworldly quality.

For the September ready-to-wear shows, the house plans to have a small presentation at its historic salons in the Place Vendôme to show the Spring 2021 collection. By next January, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode is planning the return of Paris Couture Week to live runway shows. Daniel Roseberry may then be able to create his next collection back in Elsa Schiaparelli's Parisian atelier, instead of on a New York park bench.

Watch the video of Daniel Roseberry creating his collection in Washington Square Park 

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Paris Haute Couture Profile: Julien Fournié

Diaphanous silk billows behind a model at Julien Fournié's SS20 haute couture show in Paris. Cover picture and all photography by Elli Ioannou for DAM
The French fashion federation has created a special digital platform for designers’ new collections for Paris Haute Couture Week instead of holding live shows. We profile couturier Julien Fournié and his spectacular last haute couture collection, when we didn't think twice about sitting at a crowded runway. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou

A beautifully-tailored creation
from Fournié's SS20 collection
FRENCH couturier Julien Fournié's Spring-Summer 2020 show was held at his favourite locale, the atmospheric l'Oratoire du Louvre. This historic church on the rue Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, built across from the Louvre when it was a palace, was originally the royal chapel of Louis XIII in the early1600s.

This evocative space with its chiaroscuro light, was the backdrop to the designer's collection, inspired by enterprising women explorers, ethnologists and archaeologists. Julien Fournié imagined clothes that could be worn travelling, from crossing the wilds to dancing in a ballroom.

“Haute Couture and female explorers do share a taste for challenging experiences, pragmatism and different encounters,” Julien Fournié explains. “I am convinced that the search for freedom is our common point in order to imagine the world off the beaten track.

"Whether these women were discovering South America’s pre-Columbian civilizations, Africa’s tribes or the Sahara’s Berber and Tuareg arts, they gave up nothing, neither rejecting the society from which they came, nor turning away from the new worlds they were exploring. Far from the masculine values that led to predation, via colonizing or evangelizing, their conquests advocated discovery, acceptance of differences, aid but sometimes at the cost of their own lives."

How did these ideas translate into the couturier's SS20 collection, called First Conquests? Fournié has a genius for creating razor-sharp, tailored silhouettes combined with a sense of poetry that allows him to also design fluid, filmy gowns that flow around the body in delicate swirls. This season, the theme of travel was evinced by embroideries inspired by talismans and amulets, strap belts, including braids, bags and bandoliers symbolizing movement and new lands. The aim of the collection was to mix elegance with treasures found on faraway journeys.

Fournié has a genius for creating razor-sharp, tailored silhouettes combined with a sense of poetry that allows him to design fluid, filmy gowns 

Bold colour & pattern
combined with brilliant cutting
& drapery are Fournié's signatures
The wonderfully cut dress (see above) is the colour of desert sands and hugs the body, an exquisite look for a luxurious train trip on the Oriental Express. Bold fabric designs combined with voluminous sleeves and skirts (right), all pulled together with a wide belt, gave a sense of freedom of spirit and ease of movement.

The froth of an electric blue skirt that kicks out with every step in a dynamic way made a strong contrast to the beautifully tailored, shimmering jacket worn with it (see below). Other dresses had layers of semi-transparent organza floating as the wearer moved, combining style with an easy comfort made for travelling.

The couturier draws his designs directly on to a special electronic pad and this allows him great freedom to test out varied colour palettes, fabrics and textures as he works and also allows him to send the image immediately to his atelier or to individual clients.

Founded eleven years ago, the Julien Fournié fashion house is built on what the designer describes as his 'laboratory of couture'. He decided to found the label in 2009, inspired by the virtuosity of Parisian couture, with its mix of traditional sartorial skills and new innovation.

His new collections are shown in Paris during the Haute Couture Weeks in January and July. The First Pieces collection launched in June 2009 demonstrated the Fournié signatures: beautifully draped fabrics in silk, muslin and organza plus experimentation with new materials and his masterful ability to cut.

Founded eleven years ago, the Julien Fournié fashion house is built on what the designer describes as his 'laboratory of couture'.

A frothy electric blue skirt
contrasts with a shimmering
fitted jacket 
In 2010, the couturier was awarded the Grand Prize of Creativity by the City of Paris. The following year, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the governing body of the French fashion industry, granted Fournié guest member status in 2011, which allowed his house to show at Paris Haute Couture fashion week. At the same time, the designer worked with Dassault Systèmes to create FashionLab. Fournie has been developing different projects using 3D digital technology for clothing, footwear, materials and for use in retail.

Six years after being made a guest member, the Julien Fournié House was officially given the Haute Couture imprimatur. In January 2017, Fournié was granted full official status as a Haute Couture label, which is protected in France and which only fourteen houses can legally use. The French government is rigorous about its selection of who is on the list. Designers must show superlative creativity and design ability plus unsurpassed skill in the way the garments are made in their ateliers.

The couturier says he started drawing from the age of three years old and sketching has always been central to his work. Although he started out his career as a medical student, he ended up switching to fashion design and went on to the study at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Demonstrating his skill and talent, Fournié was able to work as an intern at the top fashion houses in Paris, including Christian Dior, Givenchy under Alexander McQueen, Celine and Nina Ricci.

In 2017, Fournié was granted full official status as a Haute Couture label, which is protected in France and which only fourteen houses can legally use 

  The couturier in Paris at the finale of
his show at the l'Oratoire du Louvre
After he had finished his graduation runway show in 2000, the future couturier received the Moët et Chandon Award for best accessory at the Paris Fashion Awards. By the time he was an intern at Céline, Jean Paul Gaultier had asked to employ him as an assistant in his Haute Couture studio. This was an important experience for his later role as artistic director of his own house as he was in charge of researching materials and embroidery. Fournié was also able to collaborate designing some of Madonna stage costumes for her World Tour.

Claude Montana, a starry couturier of the time, who was known for his brilliant ability to cut and tailor clothes, also wanted to have Fournié on his team. When he was a designer at Montana Creations in 2003, the young couturier was appointed by Torrente Haute Couture not only as creative director for its ready-to-wear lines but also for the entire brand, including haute couture.

Three years later, in an unusual move for a Parisian designer, he collaborated with brands in South Korea, where he was keen to explore other fashion worlds where the industry was just starting to take off. After working on the creative direction at Ramosport back in France, known for it's iconic travel coat, and designing accessories at Charles Jourdan, he decided he had enough experience to launch his own label. It turned out to be his best move yet.

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Lockdown and Liberty in Paris: A Photographic Essay

The normally bustling 1st arrondissement in the centre of Paris. Main photograph and cover picture of the wonderful phalanx of trees along the Tuileries Gardens by Elli Ioannou  

Our Paris correspondent Elli Ioannou writes about her experiences living under the Covid-19 lockdown, looking across the Louvre from her eyrie, perched high above the Rue de Rivoli in the heart of Paris. Her photographs document Paris: deserted as the city has never been before, as the coronavirus took hold; and now as the streets, bridges and parks slowly fill with people again as restrictions are lifted. Story and photographs by Elli Ioannou. Edited by Jeanne-Marie Cilento


Looking across the Louvre at twilight
 from Elli Ioannou's apartment,
with not a person in sight
IN PARIS, there was a very real sense of the Covid-19 threat as the city shut down in mid-March. The crisis touched every part of our lives and left us marooned in our apartments, disconnected from the rest of the French capital.

Everyone was an island unto themselves as we watched news reports of the virus spreading so quickly and rapaciously in the European cities around us. At the start, it was difficult getting used to this new reality.

From March 23rd we had to carry the declaration, known as an Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire, stating why we were out in public. If you didn't have the official document you could be fined, if you weren't shopping for food, traveling to work (if it couldn't be done at home) or to help family, and exercising close to your home before 10am for an hour. 

Police set up road blocks to check those outside their homes had good reason to be and that their exemption declarations were in order. By April 7th, more than 8 million checks had been made, and half a million fines had been issued for failure to respect the rules of confinement. There were telephone denunciations from citizens complaining about their neighbours walking their dogs too often. A woman even denounced her husband to the police for going out to see his mistress.

For me, the first two weeks went very fast, filled with daily video calls from Europe and Australia. But I began to wonder how it was possible to be so unproductive when you were given the gift of time. I was worried about the energy wasted, the distractions, the non-stop chain messages about Coronavirus, the incessant waves of information and the conspiracy theories.

It touched all parts of our lives and left us marooned in our apartments, disconnected from the rest of the French capital 


The Centre Pompidou's colourful facade 
on the Boulevard de Sebastopol
devoid of traffic & pedestrians 
By week three, I had to switch off from the constant overload of Covid-19 updates and reclaim my life and sanity.

By now, the rules in Paris were more defined and strict and they were enforced by a roving police force. I could see them below my windows on bicycles, some even rollerblading around the city, to make sure everyone stuck to the one hour out and one kilometre radius rule.

Yet after the first weeks, I was able to settle down and choose to see this period as one of personal and professional growth, living in between moments where the collective atmosphere of worry and fear got to me. None of my friends in Paris lived near my house. Yet I found I still felt emotionally close to them and my family.

I am a person who always connects with the environment around me for inspiration and reflection. I still had access to the Seine near my house, the gardens surrounding the Louvre, the alleyways of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the leafy Tuileries entrance and I was able to walk past Notre Dame.

By week three, I had to switch off from the constant overload of Covid-19 updates and reclaim my life and sanity


Place Vendome deserted in the heart of Paris  
“Lockdown” I found too harsh a term, so I avoided using it. Instead, I liked to use the French word "confinement." It gave me the sense I still had the mental and emotional freedom to move, even if I was restricted physically.

Could I look at the Paris confinement as sort of artist's retreat? It felt like a luxury to have this time for my work, with no social outings to distract me.

I tried to cultivate daily moments of gratitude. Most of the time, I didn't feel any fear, I had already survived war as a child in Cyprus with my family. This affected the compass of my life so much, nothing afterwards ever felt so traumatic.

Living a creative career in a foreign country had also given me many tools to deal with adversity and being on my own for long periods. I found focusing on my own artwork and my rituals of meditation and yoga helped me during this period immensely.

Could I look at the Paris confinement as a sort of artist's retreat? It felt like a luxury to have this time for my work

Elli Ioannou contemplates the empty
Pont des Arts near her home
during the Covid-19 crisis
Creative projects I had begun but had no time finish could now be developed during during isolation, including curating an online exhibition entitled What if you Fly. I discovered that everything I needed was already within my reach, I just needed to look.

I live on a very busy corner in the centre of Paris, usually bustling with tourists. In summer, I can barely reach the front door of my apartment building.

But I became accustomed very quickly (to my surprise) to fewer people. I started to recognise the locals, who like me only left their homes for groceries, medical supplies or a quick walk. Sitting at home one evening, I suddenly heard the the sounds of clapping and cheering.

Since my windows are double-glazed, I thought there was a rogue opera outside in the street. But by day three of the clapping, I realised it was for the health workers putting their lives at risk to save others in Paris hospitals. I began to join in and was surprised how moving the sense of connection and energy was. Even though I don't have direct neighbours, as I live the opposite the forecourt of the Louvre, I could put my head out of the windows to see them.

Creative projects I had begun but had no time finish now had time to be developed during during the isolation


Parisians enjoy the freedom of being able to
sit on the banks of the Seine again
As I complete this essay, the strict confinement has eased with its one hour/one kilometre restrictions and carrying a legal document is no longer required.

I could now see my friends in person instead of on a phone or computer screen.

I stood on the Rive Droite of the Seine when it opened, and tears flowed at the realisation that it was time to start moving beyond my little world above Paris, the four walls that had confined me. After 55 days in isolation, it was time for me to move on to a new chapter in my life, with a much greater appreciation for the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Paris dreams quietly waiting for the city to wake again. Tap pictures for full-screen slideshow
Looking across the tranquil waters of the Seine to the Pont Neuf, with the graffiti "1785" referring to the date of the French Revolution


Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Square decorated with the bottles of a last party before Covid-19 shut Paris down

Work stopped on the restoration of Notre Dame after it was ravaged by fire last year

The Paris booksellers had to closed up shop during the crisis 

The famous Belle Epoque Cafe Angelina ,at 226 Rue de Rivoli, with its windows and doors boarded up, a favoured cafe of Coco Chanel and Marcel Proust 


L'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, looking towards the Louvre, remained eerily deserted 
Making a wish, looking across the Seine River
Anais, one of Elli’s favourite local florists, on Rue Montorgueil, also closed
Edouard Manet;s house in the Rue Bonaparte on the Rive Gauche, within a one kilometre radius of Elli's home



Elli Ioannou looks out across the vacant streets and vast forecourt of the Louvre during the lockdown 

During the Coronavirus confinement spring burst into bloom in Paris 

Elli Ioannou's dormer window onto the world looking over the mansard roofs of Paris 

The Ritz Hotel in Paris has all of its wrought-iron doors shut as it closed down during the lockdown and tourists all returned home


The bridges over the Seine are free of people and traffic  
All is quiet in the delightful Place Dauphine in Paris during the Coronavirus restrictions 

B.Biberon & Fils pulled down its dark green shutters 

The French police monitored the city on bicycles and even on rollerblades 

The stone seats under the trees of Place Dauphine are deserted 

The lush greenery of  Saint-Germain-des-Pres, nature had two months to take the city back

The abandoned Pont Neuf Metro station, silent under the spring sunshine

The home for all English language booklovers in Paris, Shakespeare and Company was much missed during the lockdown


Looking through the gilded wrought-iron fence to the Tuileries gardens
The gravel paths of the Tuileries without the crowds that would normally fill its gardens



The trees begin flowering in the Place Dauphine 

The luxurious Hotel Meurice shut up during the lockdown in Paris 

Nature begins to take over the sleeping city after two months of Paris coming to a halt


The deserted Pont des Arts in the heart of Paris 

Louis Vuitton's Saint-Germain-des-Pres store with doors and windows locked up

The green lawns and chairs waiting for Parisians to return to the Tuileries gardens
Astier de Vilatte shuttered, another of Elli's favourite ceramics stores, on Rue St Honore
I.M Pei's glass pyramid lights up the empty forecourt of the Louvre
Fences close off the great courtyard of the Louvre
A lone photographer shoots the vast emptiness at the Louvre

Saint Laurent locked up in Paris

Daisies and poppies grow by the footpaths in the centre of Paris

Chairs stacked inside the historic Cafe de Flore, on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-Benoit, in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 6th arrondissement

A lone cyclist takes in the Places des Victoires

The circular Place des Victoires designed in 1685 by Mansart with its statue of King Louis XIV 

Gilded statue of Joan of Arc opposite the Hotel Regina

The gardens around the Louvre closed off for Covid-19

Fifty-five days after the lockdown began, Parisians are able to walk and stroll to their hearts content

People gather on the Pont des Arts as restrictions are lifted in Paris by mid-May
People gather on the banks of the Seine, with social distancing soon forgotten 

Paris is open again and everyone is out to enjoy it



Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.