It’s been a pivotal few years for Maison Schiaparelli. After closing its doors over five decades ago, the storied French fashion house returned to relevancy with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2012 opening of “Impossible Conversations,” an exhibit centered around the concept of the label’s eponymous founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Miuccia Prada—two women renowned for their conceptual approach to clothes—chatting about fashion both past and present. Those imaginary discussions, though, sparked enough real ones to fuel some big moves from Elsa’s long-dormant company: releasing its first couture range in over half a century (done in special collaboration with legendary couturier Christian Lacroix), appointing a brand ambassador (model, muse, and filmmaker Farida Khelfa), and tapping Marco Zanini, formerly of Rochas, as creative director.
Recent events suggest those moves were all just ground work for something greater. After replacing Zanini with Valentino (and Givenchy, and Christian Lacroix) alum Bertrand Guyon in 2014, the brand has been turning out work to rival that of Madame Schiaparelli’s original innovations. Every haute couture line he’s overseen thus far has brilliantly merged the late designer’s signature cerebral-quirk with a more modern aesthetic; where there were once trompe l’oeil sweaters and crustacean covered dresses, we’re seeing embroidered crystal constellations, skirts painted with architectural motifs, and thousands upon thousands of palettes shaped like fresh flowers. Every piece is still whip-smart and playful, but with a twenty-first century twist.
“I want to respect the house and the body of work left by Elsa Schiaparelli, while being honest with myself,” Guyon tells us. “The project is first of all about Schiaparelli, but also it is not about looking back. I want to translate the essence of Schiaparelli to today’s world for women with the highest refinement.”
If the red carpet is any indication, he’s certainly succeeding. From the sheer top black gown Jennifer Lawrence wore at her New York premiere of The Hunger Games Mockingjay: Part 2, to the intricately embellished dress Cate Blanchett choose for the London Film festival, Schiap’s eclectic, tongue-in-cheek elegance is becoming synonymous with Hollywood’s chicest stars. Says Bertrand of the trend: “Our customer—regardless of her career—has a strong personality, and a real, complete life outside her job. So seeing such extraordinary women wearing a dress from the collection means they relate to what we’re doing. It’s the best compliment I can get.”
Speaking of compliments, we’d like to extend ours to the brand’s talented atelier team, who painstakingly craft each garment (from the draping, to seams, to countless beads, pearls, and sequins) by hand. You’ll get a glimpse of this meticulous process in the new film chronicling the making of Schiaparelli’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015-16 collection—and, mais bien sûr, its breath-taking debut on the runway.END
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