Schiaparelli: An American in Paris

Fashion loves nothing more than a debut; and haute couture doubly so. Hence, one could almost touch the sense of anticipation at Schiaparelli on Monday morning as the audience took their seats for the couture debut of Texas-born Daniel Roseberry.


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Schiaparelli - Fall-Winter2019 - Haute Couture - Paris - © PixelFormula

 
Outside the show location of Pavillon Cambon, the paparazzi went into a feeding frenzy as Celine Dion and her entourage marched inside to join a mass regiment of influencers. Inside, the lights went dark, and  Roseberry signaled the beginning of the show by taking his seat at an artist’s drawing desk in the middle of the dark runway. The speakers booming out the sound of an overhead New York subway, the M train on Manhattan Bridge. 
 
“Drawing is where couture always begins. And this collection began in a small, grimy studio in Chinatown in September,” explained the bearded Roseberry post-show.
 
An alumni of Thom Browne where he spent over a decade, the Texan had clearly imbibed Browne’s understanding that a good show must also be a work of performance art. And, like Browne, he almost bristles with quiet self-confidence.


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Schiaparelli - Fall-Winter2019 - Haute Couture - Paris - © PixelFormula


The show opened with a dozen day looks with a difference. Impeccably cut blazers or superb regimental redingotes, but worn only with a flesh colored corset and tights, and topped with metallic cowls. Parkas in Donegal green, even if the program notes called the hue Grand Hotel Milano sofa, completed with a double train at the back. Sculpted pewter leather cocktails finished below the breasts on a model that sported an immense golden serpent coiled around her neck.
 
For evening, he gradually injected in Schiap’s surrealist touches from the animal print detailing made of tiny stones to the remarkable handkerchief like headgear. Daniel also produced a couple of sensational cage dresses made of strands of crystals, paired with jackets, sporting scores of miniature sculptures of the same look dangling from a long jacket. And wowed at the finale with several giant dresses – massive flou affairs like immense works of sculpted candy floss.


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Schiaparelli - Fall-Winter2019 - Haute Couture - Paris - © PixelFormula

 
“I basically spent the month of December walking downtown at the brink of dawn, mid-winter in New York to my studio. And over the course of four weeks put together a proposal for Diego della Valle and for the first collection, and that’s basically where we are,” Roseberry told FashionNetwork.com in a pre-show preview. 
 
Roseberry is clearly a designer of considerable talent, and, remarkably after just one season, a couturier very much in command of his atelier.
 
Daniel is now the third couturier in charge at Schiaparelli, ever since Italian billionaire Diego della Valle acquired the moribund marque. Roseberry’s was clearly the most accomplished of the three. Today, Schiaparelli was suddenly relevant and modern again.
 
And competitive. The choice of location cannot have been lost on the house of Chanel, whose founder Coco was Elsa Schiaparelli’s greatest rival. Daniel staged his show on the same block as Chanel’s historic Paris flagship.


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Schiaparelli - Fall-Winter2019 - Haute Couture - Paris - © PixelFormula

 
That said, Roseberry did suffer from one of the flaws of his predecessors; a lack of a good edit. Schiaparelli had such a fertile imagination her DNA is immense, and her successors have grappled with the house's codes without really mastering them.
 
Born in Dallas, Roseberry moved to New York 13 years ago to study design in FIT for two years, before joining Thom Browne, fresh from college. However, he might consider Thom’s habit of creating finely honed collections, often made essentially of just two fabrics – like seersucker and flannel.
 
Daniel was very much in the lion’s den this morning, making his personal runway debut before fashion’s toughest jury – the notoriously tricky editors, critics and stylists of Paris couture. This was a very clever, rich, inventive collection. Yet while it was crammed with stylistic feints, jabs and flourishes it never quite landed a knock-out punch.
 
 

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