Daring, whimsical, fearless, and eccentric are all adjectives that do not even begin to touch the beguilingly, near manic spectacle that was Schiaparelli’s FW14 couture collection. From the glycerin-coated monkey-fur coats to the satin gowns encrusted with jeweled, cartoon-like heart patches – the show more than paid homage to the house’s surrealistic heritage.
Marco Zanini, the house’s chief designer was originally daunted by the idea of trying to recreate the
same wild and uninhibited energy that Schiaparelli seemed to effortlessly exude with every one of her collections. Trying to live up to Elsa Schiaparelli, the woman who introduced the world to shocking pink and made eye brows raise in the ultra restrained early 20th century with avante garde confections such as the lobster dress, initially made Zanini afraid of creating a collection that would be too out there for today’s day and age. Understandable considering how few people we see on the streets wearing shellfish adorned dresses or jackets crafted seemingly out of muppet skin. Still, nothing hinders an artist quite like restriction, especially of the mental capacity and Zanini decided the best way to overcome his fear of creating something the public would view as tacky would be to embrace the zany nature of the house 100%. Unrestricted and unconventional, the collection is definitely not meant to please everyone and is more than a little bit kitschy. “Schiaparelli is so vivid as an image in your mind,” says Zanini. “As a designer you really need to confront the dragon and go there.”And confront the dragon he did with all of the exuberance of Schiaparelli herself in the height of her career. Although Zanini did not entire replicate Schiaparelli’s unmistakable aesthetic, infusing his own contemporary vibe into each piece, there were nostalgic threads of trademark Schiaparelli woven throughout the entirety of the collection and show.
Whether Zanini’s collection is best described as captivating or unbearably campy is a matter of opinion and both assessments would be accurate. One thing that cannot be denied is the theatrical nature of the collection and of the show. Every detail was deliciously dramatic and over the top in a way that Schiaparelli herself would have absolutely adored. Sadly theatrics are missing from the collections of many couturiers today, with the focus instead being on the precision of each cut, fold, and hand-sewn detail. While meticulous beauty is one of the key elements of couture, it is incredibly refreshing when couturiers eschew established conventions of beauty entirely and embrace all things bizarre, exotic, and out of this world. A couturiers role is more than to simply dress people. It’s to create dreams, fantasies to which we all can escape the mundane. Decades ago, there was no one who knew this better than Elsa Schiaparelli, and based on the house’s latest couture collection, it is safe to say that Marco Zanini, like Schiaparelli, is a true artist, a dream weaver of the 21st century.
Donna Karan special occasion dress / Reiss suede pumps, $150 / Neiman Marcus green handbag / Nars cosmetic / OPI Gwen Holiday Collection – Christmas Gone Plaid, $19 / H&M Hair clip/brooch, $3.15
Carven crew neck sweater / Black maxi skirt / Charlotte Russe peep-toe booties /Acne Studios black hat, $155 / NARS Cosmetics red lipstick
AX Paris patterned maxi dress / MKT studio brown leather jacket, $380 / Corso Como slipon shoes / Lanvin woolen glove / Eugenia kim turban
Little Mistress v neckline dress, $95 / MANGO red coat, $140 / Diane Von Furstenberg suede pumps / Karen millen handbag, $125 / Fascinator hat, $73 /Barry M lipstick, $9.46