One of my favorite things about working in fashion is that a single spell of creativity can inspire the efforts of dozens of people and result in months of execution.
Last fall, on the eve of opening our first permanent shop in Bergdorf Goodman in New York, I sat down and, for about nine hours, painted freehand a 40-foot-long drop cloth with the codes of the Maison: body parts, padlocks and keyholes, measuring tapes and bijoux were rendered in black ink on bone-white cotton—the finished canvas served as both that night’s tablecloth at our dinner, and later, this season’s creative jumping off-point.
One of my favorite things about working in fashion is that a single spell of creativity can inspire the efforts of dozens of people and result in months of execution. Last fall, on the eve of opening our first permanent shop in Bergdorf Goodman in New York, I sat down and, for about nine hours, painted freehand a 40-foot-long drop cloth with the codes of the Maison: body parts, padlocks and keyholes, measuring tapes and bijoux were rendered in black ink on bone-white cotton—the finished canvas served as both that night’s tablecloth at our dinner, and later, this season’s creative jumping off-point.
If couture is creativity expressed as art, then this ready-to-wear collection is that art applied; applied to real life, applied to the needs and desires of our client, and applied towards the thrilling evolution of Maison Schiaparelli as a modern luxury brand. We carried over the disciplined color palette from couture; this season, we decided to communicate in only black, bone white, and Schiaparelli gold, to better let the clothes—their shapes, their tailoring—do the talking. Our goal here was perfection, the kind of perfection born from rigor: What was the perfect dress, the perfect sweater, the perfect coat? I wanted to know not just what made a piece perfect, but what makes it perfectly Schiaparelli. You’ll find the answers in pieces like a bias-cut satin slip dress with a plisse soleil bust, or a satin mini dress with hammered gold piercings and black leather lacing, or a recreation of Elsa Schiaparelli’s first lambs wool jacquard trompe l’oeil sweaters from 1927—recreated here row by row.
I thought a lot about what was elemental for this collection, and I meant that in two ways—not only what was fundamental, but what comprised the basic lexicon of the Schiaparelli wardrobe. And so, while Planet Schiaparelli is a place of discipline, it’s also a place of luxury. Here you have a snow-white shearling coat, dropping past the ankle (complete with a trompe l’oeil corset seamed into the bust), shearling pumps, a faux ermine embroidered wrap top, a floor-sweeping black leather coatdress with articulated anatomical parts, and our signature Secret Bag, reimagined in crocodile, Schiaparelli gold, and embroidered drawings of the season. In fact, the now-iconic codes of the house have been reimagined—and reinforced—throughout. The Dali-era 3-D bones motif now appears as an intarsia in a simple bateau pencil dress. My renderings of the dove, the padlock, human anatomy itself— have been scanned and embroidered in matte cotton yarn onto denim (the most Parisian of houses’ nod to America). A leather scrolled “S” from the archives has been directly reproduced onto a classic double-breasted coat in jet black wool crepe.
3 years into my tenure, my least favorite question has become “Who is the Schiaparelli woman?” How silly, how lazy a question! I would hope that by now, we already know that the answer is “Who isn’t the Schiaparelli woman?” (And that, indeed, she needn’t be a woman at all.) In the span of three months last fall, we had the honor of dressing First Lady Jill Biden, Cardi B, Regina King, Jeremy O. Harris, Lady Gaga, and Adele, as well as a diverse clientele from all over the world. While often contradictory, the Schiaparelli identity is a vast collage of human beings with dreams, preferences, and orientations all their own, even as it’s focused on a single idea: Intelligence. Our founder was a shrewd businesswoman, a wicked wordsmith, and a gifted visionary who saw far beyond the reaches and boundaries of her time. She was by day a disciplined aesthete with her own “hard chic.” By night, though, she was a creature, a sphinx, even a radish (as she once dressed up for a costume party): She was a living embodiment of her own surreal art.
This ready-to-wear collection, as well as every future ready-to-wear collection, is a meditation on that contradictory identity. As with couture, the real and the empyreal challenge each other here. Here you find softness and severity, often in a single garment. You see the softness in the hand-crocheted breasts, cuffs and collars; you see the severity in the molded boob tubes, as pointy and sharp as a hummingbird beak. It’s tender; it’s savage. Which makes sense, because that’s how I feel much of the time these days. Every day I go out in the world in my own version of socially distanced armor; but beneath that armor is a real desire to touch, to feel, to be tender, to be vulnerable. (I feel, often, like a contemporary version of Edward Scissorhands, a combination of the achingly tender and the razor sharp. Here you’ll find a tribute to that impossible hero, rendered in Schiaparelli gold.) I want to give women clothes to run the world in, yes—but, equally, clothes to fall in love in. Can’t we have both? Can’t we want both? Can’t we be both? On Planet Schiaparelli, at least, we can: Nothing here is impossible.
I want to end this note with an expression of gratitude. My most sincere thanks go to the incredible collaborators, friends, clients and partners of the House of Schiaparelli who support me and make possible all the wonderful things we do. Your passion and enthusiasm are infinitely dear to me, and I feel so honored that so many of you have welcomed Schiaparelli into your hearts and homes.