Schiaparelli Haute Couture Fall Winter 2019 2020
The rackety sound of the Manhattan subway train as it emerges into the sunlight to cross the bridge to Brooklyn. In a sign of his fearlessness, the preternaturally calm Roseberry himself emerged to take his seat at his drafting table. Just as he did last winter when he was working on his Schiaparelli presentation, he put on his headset to block out the sound of that train (as heard from his own Chinatown apartment) and the room broke into the eclectic sounds on his playlist (Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Up Where We Belong, Chic’s Good Times, Aretha Franklin’s Freeway of Love), as he began sketching the clothes in his elegant, sweeping hand, and they started to materialize before the audience—“getting off the page and getting 3D,” as he expressed it, “with volume and freedom and this celebration of the body.”
In one carefully orchestrated gesture, Roseberry was showing the world what this relatively unknown designer—a behind-the-scenes force at Thom Browne for a decade or so—looks like, as well as what he can do with the courage of his convictions (which include marking the 1930s Schiaparelli “signature” label with his thumbprint in just the same way that Schiap’s contemporary, Madeleine Vionnet, guaranteed her own original clothes).
During a preview on the eve of the show, Roseberry laid out his philosophy for the brand. “I didn’t want it to be nostalgic,” he said while showing a mood board with eclectic references that ran the gamut from Jack Whitten’s “abstract cosmologies” and Sarah Lucas’s disquieting stuffed stocking sculpture to jagged Art Deco bracelets and model-artist Veruschka von Lehndorff’s body-paint “clothing.” Instead, Roseberry looked at the Surrealist idea of displacement—a Stephen Jones “brain” hat, a bustier top set in at peplum height—and what for him has emerged as “the most interesting part of the Schiap universe: animalia, that obsession with nature.” This meant Schiap surrealisms such as scarlet acrylic false nails transformed into ladybugs (some of them encrusting the bustier top, worn with a ballgown’s billowing skirts); a giant rhinestone python coiled around the neck; and exotic skins used to face handsome tailoring (a pragmatic response to the Schiaparelli couture sales team relaying their client’s requests for daywear). Roseberry disdained reedits of the celebrated Lesage embroideries, but was inspired instead by a trompe l’oeil belt like a folded ribbon that now snaked around jacket revers as well as defining waistlines. He used those acrylic nails (including kitschy island-sunset variants) as both embroidery and jewelry elements—and crafted a sheath dress in Velcro with beaded elements that could in principle be moved around at will (for the less adventurous, the same silhouette is available in velvet).
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