Elsa Schiaparelli marvelled in the art of the oxymoron. A silhouette of pure, sharp contour is transcended by a vision of the ordinary becoming spectacular. It reveals a strong woman with Parisian allure and cosmopolitan fantasy. Today is about defining the essence of a style in fostering the paradoxes of such an eclectic personality.
Bertrand Guyon, the brand’s recently arrived Creative Director, explored Schiaparelli’s summer 1938 circus show, a collection so iconic he expressed anxiety at the thought of reprising it.
The Schiaparelli Fall 2016 Haute Couture collection was rather subdued, with elegant and streamlined tailoring and dresses. Guyon said he found many pieces in the archive in that deep shade of navy. The two nods in Schiaparelli’s eccentric direction were the extreme, built-up shoulder constructions and the lighthearted, somewhat surrealistic jewelry—gold lips on pocket flaps, the profile of a face bisected by the lapels of a blazer. A midnight cocktail dress with an asymmetric neckline and a single shoulder pad arching out beyond the clavicle was especially striking.
Circus animals were picked out in beads and sequins on a velvet dress, a colorful peacock covered the expanse of another black number. Clown costumes inspired the youthful lamé jacquard tops and bloomers. The circus wasn’t the only Elsa-ism Guyon touched on, but again he used a light touch. Astrological charts apparently dear to Schiaparelli appeared on diaphanous gowns, and others riffed on cubist paintings, artists being a crowd she ran with back in the day. The patchwork Picasso-esque bustier worn with another pair of those bloomers has real collector’s item potential.
Schiaparelli welcomed guests in the Salle des Tirages of the Hôtel d’Evreux place Vendôme in Paris. Natalie Dormer, Christine and The Queens, Laura Carmichael, Lady Kity Spencer, Isabelle Adjani, Marina Hands, Rossy de Palma, Maria Grazia Chiuri & Pierpaolo Piccioli, Olivia Palermo, Ines de la Fressange are just some of the attendees who turned up at the show.