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HAUTE COUTURE

FALL WINTER 2021/22

MATADOR COUTURE

FALL WINTER 2021/22

For two years, I’ve been saying that I didn’t care about nostalgia. This season, though, it’s where it all started. I found myself wondering, again and again: What if you combined a little Manet; a little Lacroix; a little 1980s; a little 1880s; a little matador; a little space alien; a little Ingres; a little shimmer; a lot of color? Could I do it? And what would it look like?


The answer is this, my fourth couture collection, “The Matador”: A collection that honors Elsa's vision but isn't in thrall to it.

MATADOR COUTURE

FALL WINTER 2021/22

For two years, I’ve been saying that I didn’t care about nostalgia. This season, though, it’s where it all started. I found myself wondering, again and again: What if you combined a little Manet; a little Lacroix; a little 1980s; a little 1880s; a little matador; a little space alien; a little Ingres; a little shimmer; a lot of color? Could I do it? And what would it look like?


The answer is this, my fourth couture collection, “The Matador”: A collection that honors Elsa's vision but isn't in thrall to it. If last season was about deconstruction, about pushing past the boundaries of what couture was, about trying to upend all its unspoken rules, about doing things we weren't "supposed" to do, this season, I felt the freedom to make something fiercely, undeniably, unapologetically pretty—because sometimes you have to rebel against beauty in order to return to it.


It also represents a return to innocence, to the joy that drove me into fashion in the first place. A year ago, I felt like I was designing for the end of the world. But the world didn’t end. We’re still here. Fashion is still here. Couture is still here. And not only is it still here, but in a world increasingly reliant on the easily replicable and the digitally disseminated, its power—to stop you in your tracks—is greater than ever.


I wanted to honor the potential and power of the art form by returning to the fashion I loved in my youth. Blind nostalgia isn’t healthy: we can’t romanticize the past, especially when, for so many groups of people, the past wasn’t romantic at all. But the gift of fashion is its ability to allow us to pretend, and that is its promise as well; if we dream hard enough, maybe we can will that beautiful past into existence.


This collection was conceived in three parts. The first pays tribute to Schiaparelli jackets of the past: you see references to the Maison’s earlier, iconic shapes in the white denim matador-inspired cropped jacket embellished with embroidered barrel sleeves and black silk tassels, worn over a structured tulle skirt. You see it in the black wool crepe curved-sleeve one, heavily embroidered with dozens of shell-pink silk roses - a direct homage to the Jean Cocteau x Schiaparelli masterpiece from 1937. You see most of it in the multicolor peau de soie Look 1, a garment made of vintage Schiaparelli swatches we collaged together and recreated exactly. I think of them all as being in conversation with some of Elsa Schiaparelli’s most irreverent, imaginative creations from the late 30s, all recreated here by Lesage using many of the same techniques and materials.


The second part of the collection focuses on the body and bijoux, a key element of the house’s visual vocabulary. Here you have dialogs between hard and soft, machine and human, metal and fabric. Here is a delicate pair of human lungs, seemingly crafted from a web of capillaries dipped in gold, worn atop severe black crepe gown. Here are moldings of the torso paired with a stole made of black shredded trash bags that are knit together in pure silk. Also bijoux becomes embroidery: the nose, the stomach, endless pairs of lips and ceramic eyes, hand-patinaed in the house’s signature Giacometti-inspired gold, and set in rococo frames. Here are the accessories: a minaudiere shaped like a giant pair of lips; a belt clasp with a cast hand that seems to hug the wearer across her waist.


Finally, there’s a celebration of color, a black stretch velvet dress, perfectly fitted, with a gigantic shocking-pink silk faille rose at its center; a silk velvet dress with soft, semi-conical breasts and, in the back, a crisp fan of Renaissance-blue peau de soie. Everything here feels both over-the-top and intentional: the colors—cornflower blues, salmony pinks, terracotta oranges—are as flamboyant and joyous as the shapes themselves.


It is unapologetically emotional, this collection, as giddy as falling in love. It is also a tribute to romance, to excess, to dreams, because really, is there anything more urgent today than dreaming big? Than dreaming of a better world? Of grabbing every piece of beauty with both hands?


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.

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