A wardrobe, yes. But a Schiaparelli wardrobe.
Of all Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacies, her most enduring might have been her marriage of art and fashion. Elsa became famous for her couture, but her career debut was those then-groundbreaking trompe l’oeil knits. Pure sportswear, they were an aggressive rebuke of everything frilly and flouncy, knitwear that was easy to slip on—and off (you can think of them as the athleisure wear of their age). Those early sweaters were among the first of her many “viral” moments over the course of her brief but influential career.
Even now, decades later, her work’s now-signature hallmarks—the codes, we’d call them today: the keyhole icon, the anatomical references, the measuring tape details—still feel eerily relevant. The house had always been renowned not only for its shapes or symbols, but because, above all, its clothes didn’t look like anything else out there. (As Elsa famously said, “No one knows how to say ‘Schiaparelli,’ but everyone knows what it means.”) One of the challenges of making clothes now, in an age of rampant branding, is honoring Elsa’s codes while, at the same time, not reducing them to logos. Like Elsa, our focus is on clothes: wardrobe staples that help a woman feel more like herself. In this, we look again to Elsa, whose most resplendent fantasies were always countered with simple, honest silhouettes. The result was a look whose chic rose not from gimmicks but from something heartfelt and sincere.
This season marks our first ready-to-wear runway show: a long-planned and critical step in our ongoing revival of Elsa’s house. Our mission this season was straightforward—to present an entire wardrobe, complete with everything from crisp white poplin shirts to short velvet cocktail dress, and to infuse these classics with Schiaparelli’s trademark wit, irreverence, and drama.
It also represents a kind of response to our global clientele, who’ve made it clear that they want something powerful and distinctive from us. “Quiet” doesn’t work for our women. What they want instead are the pieces that already have become indelibly associated with the house: our sharp tailoring, graphic knitwear, subversive denim, and supple leather, all embellished with our trompe l’oeil ornaments and gold hardware. This season, I wanted to play with these new signatures by combining them with traditionally masculine fabrics and tonal shades (winter whites, rich browns).
We also know that our accessories are key—we can’t keep our classic Face Bag in stock—and this season, we’ve added a new style, The Schiap, our trapunto baguette, which alludes to the design of the house’s groundbreaking 1937 fragrance, Shocking. For The Schiap, I wanted to riff on a classic profile rather than chase a trend; simple feels perfect to me right now. As always, all our bags are detailed with hammered brass hardware coated in our unique 24k gold finish, and as always, the chains on our bags are handmade, one link at a time.
You’ll also see we’re expanding our shoe offerings, building on the success of our golden toes—which you’ll soon see adorning leather boots and rubber wellies, too—with our keyhole plaque, here featured in velvet and patent, and on a knee-high stretch leather boot that complements this season’s cropped trouser.
And then there’s the bijoux, which is essential to the Maison’s identity. This season we have gilded lilies and oyster shells, giant keyhole doorknocker earrings, and my new favorites, oversized hammered-gold cuffs with inlaid shearling and enamel padlocks. In addition, we have our anatomy pieces, which will always be particularly special to me, as they remind us that nothing is as eternal or universal as the human body: It’s the one thing we know for certain we all have in common, and a source of inspiration for us all.
So often in this town (and in this industry), the product becomes less creative the higher you go. But Elsa gives us permission—and a road map—to imagine what it means to be fearlessly chic, to trust our instincts. And so that’s what this collection is about—clothes and accessories that exist at that impossible crossroads, between what’s forever stylish…and what’s perfectly of its moment.
Video via YouTube