Our alien overlords have arrived...wearing Schiaparelli.
Daniel Roseberry’s thrilling Schiaparelli collections have been ratcheting up ardent support from the start, and he has always found ways to bring both the historic elements of the collection together with something new and exciting. SCHIAPARALIEN, the finale of his trilogy of collections that began with Inferno, focused on a distinct fixation with the past and the future, or in Roseberry’s words, “Old World techniques with New World technological elements.” This time, the thesis piece was a mini dress comprised of a glittering surface of upcycled pre-Iphone technologies: chunky calculators, computer microchips, motherboards, even flip phones. It was surprising how, when abstracted from their origins, these pieces looked so decorative and attractive. The same tech elements were applied to a spooky baby doll, clutched to the chest of a model who was wearing an off-white ribbed tank top over a matching corset and “inside-out” pants. What would have been a tender moment between “mother” and “child” became a grotesque reminder of technology’s continued preeminence in our lives.
Elsewhere, the “alien” part of SCHIAPARALIEN came in a foreboding array of sculptural gowns, with lace bodice that lifted above the face like Dumbo’s elephant ears. Even though futuristic in design, these pieces were a nod to the house founder’s uncle Giovanni Schiaparelli who was an astronomer that famously coined the term Martian and named many of the seas on earth’s neighbor. Aliens shared space with cowboys as Roseberry brought a hint of Americana to the runway in the form of elaborately fringed finishes and looks decorated with ropes and ropes of buckled belts.
Beyond the otherworldly beauty of the collection, there was much to see on the front row. Watching Jennifer Lopez stride into the Schiaparelli show space for the Spring 2024 Couture presentation says a lot about the universal desirability of Schiaparelli’s designs. While the Hunter Schafers and Natasha Lyonnes of this world seem at one with the brand, Lopez was a surprise at the show. She is usually seen on red carpets in classic couture (she tends to favor Zuhair Murad, Georges Hobeika, and gowns by other traditional couturiers).
When it comes to mass relatability, one might assume that the avant-garde and the left-of-center might be harder sells, but that has never been the case for Schiaparelli. Elsa Schiaparelli’s first design, a smart little sweater depicting a trompe l’oeil bow and collar, was instantly deemed a “masterpiece” by the US fashion press and became an overnight sensation. This success with oddball products – the Mad Cap, the fingernail gloves, the Peekaboo hat – happened time and time again; all the better when they raised a scandal. It speaks to a woman’s innate desire for clothes that outwardly express one’s inner personality, a sense of humor, a clever bent, a rebellious nature. The reach of someone like Lopez can only serve further to expand the consequential surrealism of the Schiaparelli universe.
SCHIAPARALIEN, the finale of his trilogy of collections that began with Inferno, focused on a distinct fixation with the past and the future, or in Roseberry’s words, “Old World techniques with New World technological elements.”