For those of us attending fashion month virtually, things have been a bit less, well, exciting. Gone is the thrill of seeing the new garments, shoes and bags move in real time on the runway, and the up-close, tactile moments of craftsmanship that can only really be done at showroom appointments and re-sees.
But one French fashion house has managed to create buzz with just a look book — and it’s doing so by paying homage to its own history.
Schiaparelli showed its spring ’21 line virtually with a collection of images that featured just two models traipsing around the brand’s showroom and throughout Paris, wearing a series of ambitiously cut garments in mostly neutral colors and a series of flat toe-ring sandals with clever, abstract footprints embedded in the insole.
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But the real star of the collection was the jewelry. Gilded glasses dotted with electric blue eyes were worn with oversized gold button earrings and lock-and-key brooches. Molded plates covering the lower half of the face made for the chicest version of a mask (though maybe not the most practical). Golden nipple coverings were met with chain after oversized chain of heavy pendants.
Any Schiaparelli fan knows that the brand’s legacy lies in its avant-garde, surrealist approach, which its founder Elsa Schiaparelli wore as her own best model. Some of the best examples can be found in her jewelry, which was done both in costume materials as well as precious gems.
The Italian designer partnered with artists like Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau on a series of jewels and accessories, some of which were resurrected earlier this year for Schiaparelli’s couture collection.
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Good luck horns, constellations, pearls and snakes. Despite the various stories and anecdotes about Schiaparelli’s surreal and all-embracing world, a magical area of Elsa's creativity remains a mystery. That of her relationship to jewelry. Bold, heavy and almost barbaric in construction, or refined and delicate, Schiaparelli only wore strictly personal jewelry pieces. The magical thoughts that inspired her choices will never to be revealed. Schiaparelli’s relationship with her most statement pieces is still defined by secrecy. The artist-couturière was highly sensitive to the meaning of numbers and symbols and wholeheartedly believed in underlying powers around the letter S. A large golden snake could often be found wrapped around her wrist. The moles on her left cheek became the foundation of the Schiaparelli constellation brooch. The trusted companion of Elsa's suits, as her astronomer uncle Giovanni revealed to her that these moles were an exact representation of the Big Bear constellation. Schiaparelli’s use of the double chain in her gold bracelets, usually composed of an oversized wide link and a full link one, has been a statement. Schiaparelli hardly separated herself from her bracelets, unless the special appearance was focused on the maxi horn collier, completely taking over her look with its talismanic touch. But Schiaparelli is never predictable, so within her private jewelry, we also have to mention the pearl necklace, held together by gigantic shell-shape clips. Together with the platinum-diamond cuff and the coordinated diamond black enamel and platinum ring, Schiaparelli wore the pearl necklace for the September 1933 Vogue portrait. Designed by Suzanne Belperron, these design pieces ran in all three Vogue editions-Paris, London, and New York. Along with a more classical twist, which is part of the all-embracing #espritSchiap. © All rights reserved
Artistic director Daniel Roseberry has been tapping into this bit of the brand’s history since he came on board last year, pulling out archival designs and reimagining them with collections that balance both past and present.
For spring ’21, Roseberry is thoroughly expanding on the founding designer’s jewelry history and taking it into a new decade. Jewelry-as-armor-as surrealist-art sounds right for right now.