After seeing Daniel Roseberry’s Fall/Winter 2021 Couture collection for Schiaparelli, Diana Vreeland’s famous quote instantly comes to mind – “fashion must be the most intoxicating release from the banality of the world.” And intoxicating it was. Titled ‘Matador Couture’, the collection embodies the true essence of haute couture, which is a far cry from the unprecedented times we live in where loungewear rules and real fashion has taken a backseat. For the Fall 2021 Couture season, the Texan-born designer creates an opulent collection that not only captures the zeitgeist, but also beautifully encapsulates designs from times gone by.
Elsa Schiaparelli was known to have referenced corrida (bullfighting) jackets in the past, and so there were Roseberry’s version in the form of tailored matador jackets. One multi-colored jacket was made from original Schiaparelli swatches from the 1930’s that were resurrected from the archives of the legendary embroiderer Lesage. A denim version, which came heavily embellished with gold-thread embroidery, was created out of vintage Levi’s jeans whereas the leather matador was crafted from old biker jackets.
Schiaparelli often worked with artists (in fact she was the one to start this trend); likewise, Roseberry sent out a jacket that was inspired by her collaboration with Jean Cocteau. In wool-crepe and with heavily curved sleeves, it came bursting with rose embroidery, and was a nod to her original masterpiece from 1937. Using up-cycled materials was an integral part of the collection – it meant that these clothes could not be reproduced easily. Case in point: a stole worn over a silver bustier was made from shredded garbage bags, and stitched together in pure silk or a jacket embellished in crystals from the 1930’s.
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Roseberry takes a trip down memory lane for his Couture collection, but doesn’t succumb to nostalgia. Surrealist references, which have always been quintessential to Schiaparelli were seen throughout the show. A pair of jeans came with decorative eye appliqués, the cap-toe shoes had toes on top of the gold, and a belt featuring a hand-shaped clasp was both creepy and cool at the same time. A lip-shaped minaudiere inspired by Salvador Dalí was a stand-out accessory, and will definitely be gracing the red carpet. Roseberry also takes inspiration from the iconic Jean Paul Gaultier cone-bra with silhouettes featuring metallic conical-shaped structures placed on the bosom.
The craftsmanship seen in this collection was unparalleled. An outlandish cocktail dress in the colors of the Palace of Versailles came with gazelle horns on an artisanal metal structure rising up from the bust with baroque-esque embroidery all over it. In another look, a voluminous taffeta skirt is worn under a gold body sculpture, which took two months to create. A black crepe gown with a scooping neckline was decorated with a gilded breast-plate designed to look like human lungs. Meanwhile, a black and white dress boasted hand-crafted fringes with a spinal cord that was embroidered with black glass beads and pompoms.
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There were a few ballgowns too, but they came with a splash of eccentricity. A powder blue silk number (think of what Cinderella wore when she was dancing with the Prince till midnight) was designed with a velvet bustier with faille rosette fleurs on the bust. Another evening wear piece had a mouth shaped bustier in terracotta orange with a fitted bodice and an exaggerated train. And finally, the pièce de résistance, the wedding dress, which was excess in every form, and yet, breathtaking – in hand-pleated ivory silk taffeta, the bustier looked like a disco ball with rhinestones and painted hand-cut glass mirror pieces.
Roseberry made his sentiments clear in a statement about the collection. “Here’s what I want: No more cookie-cutter fashion. No more pieces that look like they could have been made by anyone. No more cynicism. No more irony. No more timidity. No more coolness. Give me more beauty, more earnestness, more romance, more effort. I hope this collection reminds everyone who encounters it of the sheer delight that fashion can bring us in hard times, and with it, the promise of more joy when the clouds part. Give me more fashion. Give me more hope.” And he delivered on all of the above.