Schiaparelli kicked off first the ever fully digital Paris haute couture season on Monday with a touching film that concentrated on its couturier Daniel Roseberry’s imagination since he was marooned in New York throughout the lockdown.
Normally, couture week in Paris sees some of the wealthiest women in the world descend on the French capital to see shows and place orders with the great luxury fashion houses of happening independent couturiers. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, French organizers exceptionally initiated a season which takes place online; devoid of any live runway shows.
Today it fell to Schiaparelli to inaugurate the 33-event, three-day season, which includes major league players like Christian Dior, Chanel, and Valentino. The whole season is available on a state-of-the-art, new platform – courtesy of the Fédération de la Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body, whose home page features a video statement by Naomi Campbell.
“The time has come to collectively call the fashion industry to task regarding inequality in our workspaces and in our industry... Paris is fashion’s central stage and it’s leader. This is a call for action that we are making,” said Campbell, who wore a T-shirt that read: Phenomenally Black.
Schiaparelli’s 3.30 minute video, entitled Collection Imaginaire, began with Roseberry packing his sketch book to walk through downtown Manhattan, and into Washington Square, dressed in a baseball cap, white T-shirt and chinos. After finding a park bench, he begins to sketch the collection, the camera capturing statues of Washington painted red by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I have been living in isolation while Maison Schiaparelli took a hiatus. Everyone has their own lockdown story, some harrowing, some tragic, some utterly lonely. The luckiest of us have been able to spend this time in nature, far removed from city life. My own experience was shared with millions of other Manhattanites: It was privileged, but nothing extraordinary. What was extraordinary, however, was the ability to walk into Washington Square Park on a Monday morning and sketch out an Haute Couture collection,” explained Roseberry.
Elements of Elsa Schiaparelli's vast output waft in and out of the video – butterflies, surreal eyes and masked balls – as squirrels run in the New York park. Then, Daniel’s
pen leads him to Paris, where he sketches at Schiaparelli’s headquarters on Place Vendôme. Marking in exact instructions on each sketch – huge volume sleeves; S-shaped metal heel caps or measuring tape beading.
It helps that Roseberry is an excellent illustrator, who enthusiastically uses a felt tip pen to color the signature shocking pink of the house into one evening gown.
The morning continued with Ulyana Sergenko, whose video was a homage to the ancient skills of her homeland, the DNA of Russian fashion, with its delicate lace and rich embroideries. Section II featured illustrators preparing fine sketches of each design, before the couturier participates in an actual fitting. All backed up by an intense jazz drum solo.
Section III had Ulyana marching out her cast in phalanxes to a military tattoo of drums, before a long pull-away shot of the designer standing in Russian steppes at a somber sunset. All featuring Sergenko’s "grand soirée" couture to considerable effect.
The morning ended with Iris van Herpen, who showcased a three-minute film entitled Transmotion. With just one of the Dutch couturier’s remarkable high-tech, tulle, shell-shaped dresses embroidered in jet bugle beads worn by ethereal model Carice van Houten. Directed by Ryan McDaniels and all backed up by a spacy soundtrack, Hania Rani – F Major. By van Herpen’s path-breaking standards, this felt like a faint echo.