Fabulous. Absolutely faaabulous. Since reviving the most hallowed design houses in fashion history has become such a trend, it’s only natural that someone would revive the HOUSE OF SCHIAPARELLI. Criticized for virtually copying Schiaparelli, the most recent design team was given its walking papers and BERTRAND GUYON was brought aboard to re-imagine Schiaparelli for modern times. ELSA SCHIAPARELLI herself, a devoted fan of DADAISM and SURREALSM, was a formidable designer in the 1930s, and COCO CHANEL’s chief rival. Though polar opposites, Chanel loathed Schiaparelli, and would not speak her name, referring to her only as “the Italian.” If Chanel personified chic and elegance, Schiaparelli personified playfulness and imagination. Incorporating motifs from the cutting edge art movements of the time, Schiap’s exquisitely tailored suits employed unpredictable detailing and whimsical embellishments. The relaunch of the vaunted couture house was, in fact, much too derivative of the original, but designer Guyon has a far more sophisticated interpretation of the things that made Schiaparelli a star. Her shapes, her styling and her fabrics are only suggested by Guyon… brilliantly. Sumptuous brocades, tailored within an inch of their lives added intense richness to the very curvy shapes - shapes that were not quite as extreme as Schiap’s were, but
far more marketable. The cigarette-leg pants were crisp and sleek, hitting right at the ankles, and often with a slit at the instep. The decolletages were cut down to here. The jackets were so tailored they could stand up by themselves. The dresses were fluid and breathtakingly romantic. The capes were genius. And the prints, derived from Schiap’s original prints by artists like BÈBÈ BERARD and MARCEL VERTES, were as modern today as they were 80 years ago. A very famous detail of Schiap’s was the motif of a stylized eye by surrealist COCTEAU and a brass handbag in the shape of a manicured hand. Both of these details were were employed by MGM designer ADRIAN in the 1939 iconic film “THE WOMEN” but Guyon reinterprets them magnificently. The elongated bomber jacket over the sheer black chiffon skirt? The red ensemble of a velvet dress and fur-trimmed beaded matlassé evening coat? The colorful piecework of the surrealist fur coat? The strapless amphora-shaped gown with its Berard-like print? The gold hammered-satin evening gown? The “Shocking Pink” (Schiap’s major contribution to fashion) chiffon gown? All to die for. Regal, gorgeous and deeply desirable, Bertrand Guyon has revived Schiaparelli brilliantly, in the same manner as JOHN GALLIANO did for DIOR. The way it should be done. This is my favorite collection in recent memory.