Schiaparelli’s posh pagan surrealism
What a difference a smart stylist can make. Schiaparelli changed stylists this season, bringing in noted Brit Katie Grand and the result was Bertrand Guyon’s best collection for the Paris house.
The heart of matter, of course, were some superb clothes by Guyon, who now after three years at the house seems totally in command of his atelier and very in synch with Schiap’s surrealist DNA. He even matched the stars, locks, eyes and insignia on a marvelous billowing wool overcoat with the ecru carpet upon which the models walked.
Haute couture may only be made for a rarefied elite of a couple of thousand wealthy women but it still operates as a marvelous laboratory of fashion. As this show reminded us. For day, Guyon sent out mannish shirts embroidered with six of Schiap’s much loved creatures – insects. For parties, a series of jovially satanic looks, notably a blood red raffia breastplate worn over a marquetry lizard and python skirt, and worn by British blueblood model Jean Campbell; followed by veteran Sudanese beauty Alek Wek in a marquetry blazer and endless legs. A checkerboard fantasy that seems destined to be distilled by lesser designers worldwide.
Very jungle chic – all the way to a fantastic black raffia safari jacket cut as a mini cocktail, whose patch pockets were designed as locks. Plus, the show contained a few outrageously cool tote bags in wood, plastic and raffia courtesy of a collaboration between Guyon and Lucie de la Falaise, who once modeled at Givenchy, when the designer worked for that house. Completing the fashion royal circle – Lucie’s grandmother Maxime de la Falaise once created children’s clothes for Schiaparelli herself.
And, again, hiring Grand was important. Adding that soupcon of modern hip that Guyon’s Schiap badly needed, picking a great new cast – several making runway debuts - and going for a pure, natural look.
“I think in couture, it being so grand and rich, if you start doing too much hair and makeup it all looks so uptight,” argued the ebullient Grand, the founder and editor-in-chief of always influential Love magazine. One could not agree more.
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