Upon first scroll, Daniel Roseberry’s haute couture collection for Schiaparelli seemed an unusually sombre one. No Schiaparelli Shocking Pink? That jarring shade of pink which became the designer’s sartorial calling card (long before millennial pink made its indelible mark) all but lost? Instead, a muted procession of sobering shades likes putty, sand, cigar, caramel, navy and black, a colour cohort in stark contrast to the vibrant, graphic surrealism of the Italian designer’s ’30s universe.
But then, at look 25, the colour came. It began slowly, a slithering strapless dress in rich cobalt blue glaze, a periwinkle pinstripe palazzo pant, then periwinkle leather dissected with gold and laced with thickly-cut crystals. But that hybridised hue of purple and blue really beamed in the form of a sculptural taffeta dress which fanned around the model’s head like a thriving carnation. Relief, colour at last.
What followed was an array of splendidly hued gowns, colour-blocked like couture – not a candy store – in clever overlays and striking couplings. But as impressive as these coloured gowns were, there was something so hauntingly beautiful about the subtlety of Roseberry’s first chapter. What the pieces may have lacked in saturation, they made up for in impeccable tailoring and awe-inspiring detail; sublime surface details like gilt scarabs and evil eyes, jewelled house motifs (such as the padlock), skeletal embellishments, Lesage embroidery, clusters of pearls – the kind of overt handiwork synonymous with his earliest predecessor. Plus, of course, the inflated proportion of couture – dresses like peaks of whipped cream, bubble hems so big it’s hard to imagine how they even fit through a door – made the pallid palette feel alive.
But perhaps Roseberry’s true gift – aside from a boundless imagination – is his ability to tap the wells of the past – namely that shocking shade of pink and the House’s innate dynamism – and render it with renewed, yet subtle, clarity. An embellished white suit, for example, bore only a gentle splice of the hue, as too a strapless frock in dolly pink, the only semblance of that shade in a handbag and leather flat.
And the final, gentle touch; shocking pink confetti – as if falling from the heavens. It seems Elsa Schiaparelli was there after all.