This Week's Wow: A Less Shocking Schiaparelli
In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: The storied house of Schiaparelli presented its first haute couture show in 60 years in Paris on Monday with its new designer, Marco Zanini, formerly of Rochas. While the critical reaction was mixed (“Too much of a tribute?” asked Long Nguyen at Fashionista.com; “...a designer who understands the pace of a modern woman’s life,” wrote Suzy Menkes in The International New York Times), the show put Schiaparelli solidly back on the fashion map. Following a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition that paired Elsa Schiaparelli with Miuccia Prada two years ago, and a Christian Lacroix-designed capsule collection last year, Zanini set out to revive the label for a contemporary audience on fashion's biggest stage.
Why It’s a Wow: Elsa Schiaparelli was famous for her “shocking” fashion collaborations with Surrealist artists in the 1930s -- including a dress with a large red lobster painted on it by Salvador Dalí in 1937 -- so Zanini began by asking himself whether it is still possible to be shocking today. “Nobody can get shocked anymore as we have been through so many things,” he said. “However, to see something beautiful can be shocking, as in surprise.”
The beauty here was in the details. Seeing the designs up close in the Schiaparelli atelier on the Place Vendome, it struck me that the craftsmanship behind the collection was almost startling, in a pale green opera coat, for example, made with hand-cut velvet fig leaves placed along its edges, or an off-white dotted chiffon dress on which each dot was individually painted (pictured). The idea of that dress was “la plui de Paris,” or Paris rain, so the ivory jacket Zanini designed to wear with it came with enormously puffy white sleeves made of silk gazaar to look like clouds. One of Zanini’s surprises was that the seemingly straightforward jackets were reversible so that their discreet feather embroidery linings could also be worn plumage side out.
And there were plenty more irreverent winks in the accessories, including marvelous hats made by Stephen Jones (one was a tiara of stars in the shape of Ursa Major, a play on a Schiaparelli birthmark) and jewelry created by Maison Gripoix. Schiaparelli, unlike many designers, didn’t have a signature flower. So Zanini chose a Venus flytrap for rings and a brooch made of a brass and melted glass, one with a brass fly in its grasp.
Learn More: Explore the history of Schiaparelli through clever imagery and animations at Schiaparelli.com, or revisit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” MORE: • The Most Unexpected Trend We've Seen at Paris Fashion Week • Butterflies Ruled the Runway at the Couture Shows • Fashion Week Alert: Coach Is Joining in the Action