“Elsa always promised surprise in her work, and over the years, people have learned to come to Schiaparelli at fashion weeks in a spirit of wonder; you don’t know what you’re going to encounter here, but you know that the story will be different each time,” explained Daniel Roseberry, ahead of Schiaparelli’s opening presentation at Paris Couture Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023. Little did we know, ‘surprise’ would be a humble understatement to describe the show. Inspired by Italian Poet Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy—Daniel took literal influence from some of his most arresting imagery and created the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf. Representing lust, pride, and avarice—Daniel and the team of Schiaparelli hand-crafted each of these faux-taxidermy creations made out of foam, resin, and other manmade materials.
All’s Fair At Fashion Weeks
Even before this layered and complicated, story-telling narrative was uncovered through the show—reality star and beauty Moghul Kylie Jenner alarmed curiosity, when she arrived at Petit Palais in Paris wearing a form-fitted black velvet gown with a giant faux-lion etched on her chest. Sending the internet into a frenzy, it instantly became one of the most circulated photographs of the day and the ‘mane’ topic of conversation. While regular fashion week folks were still deciphering these larger-than-life couture pieces and his metaphoric vision that were supposedly meant to honour these majestic beings, environmentalists weren’t quite stoked about Daniel’s theatrics. Animals aren’t products of luxury—even though parts of them are no longer used as material in fashion, they’ve historically been killed by humans for their greed, which makes this a bitter reminder of that—shared a few angry animal-lovers under Schiaparelli’s Instagram post. According to Daniel, this collection was supposed to be his homage to doubt. The doubt of creation, and the doubt of intent—unironically, it delivered exactly that.
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Authenticity Vs Enagagement
Day 1 of Paris Couture Fashion Week S/S 2023 had an exciting array of designers showcasing their labour of love. Amongst the starry lineup were Iris van Herpen, Dior and own very own consecutive Indian representative Rahul Mishra—who unveiled yet another invigorating collection titled ‘Cosmos’. The vision for this line originated from the Sanskrit statement ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ which translates to, ‘I am the cosmos’. Couture ensembles ornated with two and three-dimensional hand embroidery complemented by elements made in hand-cast recycled brass that is gold plated and encrusted with Swarovski crystals—this collection was Rahul’s most exuberant attempt yet.
Besides Mishra, Maria Grazia Chiuri displayed Dior’s latest collection inspired by the nuances of Josephine Baker—an American-born French dancer, singer and actress, who was also a civil rights activist and joined the French Resistance in World War II. True to her aesthetic, Maria Grazia kept it understated, without making a noise with volume. Her intelligent take on couture and subtle ode to the icon was almost missed amongst the roaring rage and rave around Schiaparelli. Similarly, Rahul’s India-rooted collection showcasing innovative craft and techniques from various parts of the country deserves a longer minute under the limelight.
Chasing The Next Big Thing
With quick viral moments and celebrity-focused coverage—is fashion leaning more towards a facade? Don’t get it twisted, Daniel Roseberry’s collections for Schiaparelli can become case studies on merging art and fashion—but while we’re busy focusing on what’s obviously colossal, we’re misinterpreting what couture represents. If I were to ask you to name one fashion moment from 2022 that stood out for you, the majority of responses would describe the internet-breaking instant when supermodel Bella Hadid was being live spray-painted during the Coperni show. Despite various path-breaking partnerships and collections that represented the minutiae of fashion’s finest, the details got blurry and often got lost in the cacophony of showmanship.
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It then begs the question, is the thirst for the likes and optics taking over? Will fashion weeks then bait these brands, given the time in the spotlight this offers? And for designers and brands unperturbed by the dopamine rush, did it even happen if it didn’t break the internet?
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