Daniel Roseberry presented Schiaparelli’s SS23 couture show in Paris this week with a contemporary interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, inspired by the house’s surrealist origins. Yet another collection where the Texas-born creative director has proven to possess the innate talent to follow in the footsteps of brand founder Elsa Schiaparelli. In the show notes, Roseberry described the couture collection as a “homage to doubt” and a metaphor for tormented artists and their fears leading to courageous decisions. Additionally, the designer created three looks for each of the nine circles of hell to nod to Dante’s sense of order and interpreted the epic poem’s three allegorical animals, the lion, leopard, and she-wolf. The latter caused quite a stir, but isn’t that what couture is all about?

The Palette

Despite not employing the usual bright pinks, reds, and blues, the collection never presented a dull moment. With its tawny palette and shades of brown, beige, and champagne, Roseberry’s work invites you to contemplate the fine details of the silhouettes contrasting with the muted tones.

The Face

Look 7

Since Roseberry’s tenure at Schiaparelli, Maggie Maurer has been among his beloved muses. Schiaparelli’s SS22 had Maurer’s visage immortalized in a gold clutch bag.

Fine Details

Detours

Though Roseberry’s work is still meticulously crafted, these three looks were less avant-garde than the rest of the collection. Despite this, they are simple but not simplistic. These designs suggest that, amid chaos and wilderness, simplicity still has a place.

References to Elsa Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1938 coat was on Rosberry’s mood board for Look 10. Roseberry had the artist create these hyperrealistic faux-taxidermy pieces using materials like resin and silk faux fur, taking inspiration from Elsa’s love for real animal coats and prints.

It is most likely that Look 16 was inspired by Alberto Giacometti’s bronze stem for a lamp he designed for Elsa in the 1930s. It was interesting to see references to her designs and the people with whom she collaborated.

Notes on Codes

Roseberry presented the house codes more subtly than usual with the padlock and a few anatomical jewellery pieces.

Roseberry, however, exhibited a stunning manifestation of his cerebral terror as he related to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Instead of saturating the collection with jewelled buttons or anatomical details, he expressed the concept of an out-of-body experience with exaggerated garments that, as they are more prominent than their subjects, stand cohesively together while conveying that heightened fear, anxiety, and elation.

Most of these looks might not carry all of Schiaparelli’s codes, but they are the pulse of Elsa’s legacy.

KHAMSA’s Top Four Looks

Final Note

Moments after the show, online comments about haute couture’s ostentatious nature flooded the internet. There is no accounting in taste, but there will always be controversy in the interesting. Everyone’s asking, did Roseberry go too far this time? Well, he should. High fashion is for the bold, absurd, and equally elegant. High fashion is extreme, and Roseberry knows that Schiaparelli has always been too. Judging fashion based on commodity reduces it from being a form of applied art and strictly becomes a product of consumerism. However, the poking at high art, be it fashion or paintings, is part of its appeal.

Vilification, impartiality and tributes: neither can exist without the other, much like Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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