After a more habitual approach last season, Daniel Roseberry takes flight with Schiaparelli’s fall/winter 2023 show. Entitled ‘And the artists’, the collection is heavily inspired by artists, but not just their work or their messages. Just as Roseberry, a creative director with an unmatched capacity for exploration and humour, relishes in the creative journey as a whole, he goes beyond the usual references and finds inspiration that would fly by the heads of many.
From the moment Danish model Mona Tougaard slinks onto the runway, physics undoubtedly plays on everyone’s mind. Then, a winter white melton coat rendered with Venus’ likeness and the kind of draping that could have taken months to perfect. But notably, all the looks we see were intentionally pulled together just days before the show. In a process most would find inconceivable, Roseberry credits as a “revelation”.
Unbound by the pressure to work within the codes of the maison’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, Rosberry—who has more than earned the right to steer his own ship—finds “freedom” in separates. “I wanted to make an impossible wardrobe—impossible not because it’s not wearable, but because it’s so extraordinary,” he said of his approach, “a Surrealist’s interpretation of a woman’s essential closet.”
‘Impossible’ is an apt word to apply to the collection. Each piece references an artist of no specific era or school, but somehow, the curation is there, and the flow is mesmerising. A dress that came about by hand painting a model’s body in brushwork inspired by Lucian Freud, which was then transferred to a stretch silk body stocking, is flanked by a woolly tubular coat with wooden arms crossed over the front and a faux fur coat that mimics the palm fronds at the Hôtel Régina that housed Matisse’s studio.
Elsewhere, sculptor Jack Whitten’s mirrored mosaic pieces find their way in a broken-mirror stretch cardigan and skirt set. A leather cigarette box that trims a ball gown skirt is a homage to Sarah Lucas, and the deep blue pebble-like beads and powder that cover a multitude of surfaces—including the necks and torsos of models—are a nod to Yves Klein, but also to Miro’s illustrations for children. Even the walls of artist Lucian Freud’s London studio inspired the dramatic chaos of painterly brushwork on an oversized white laminated puffer.
This collection has been so heavily inspired by disparate worlds of creation, coming together in a blurred amalgam that finds focus only if we tap into a primal sense of wonder. This is the “creative innocence” we hear Roseberry talking about in the face of a very serious world, and it’s awfully captivating.
Bodies are not lost in these big ideas, either. Silhouettes are built to flatter in retro feminine shapes, and craft-like accessories never overwhelm the wearer. Trademark anatomical toes reappear, as did gilded ears in the form of a coat clasp, but it’s the pearl-encrusted capped pumps and slit peep toe shapes that, though more streamlined than we’re used to from Roseberry, stir excitement.
It’s undeniable the gruelling levels of effort that the atelier behind Schiaparelli’s looks would employ to bring Roseberry’s vision to life, but the team possess an ineffable ability to leave this out of the final product. There are no remnants of the painstaking labour in the mood of the clothes, despite the hours and resources that would have been undertaken to pull off such a feat in the time allocated. Instead, each look, each accessory and every detail exudes a joy and passion for creation.
Entering into a new territory of progressive separates, structural silhouettes and otherworldly outerwear in prints and fabrics that make us look again—if you can peel your eyes off of the pieces the first time—Roseberry invites us to reimagine what is possible with clothing. His vision is grand and ambitious but exacted with a compelling sense of wit and an ability to see the lightness in the artist’s process.
Fashion is often grounded by the world, rebuked into humility, as we saw with Schiaparelli’s last collection. Luckily for us, we have artists still willing to play.
Keep up with all the Haute Couture stories here.
This story first appeared on Grazia International.