Schiaparelli is Back – Without the Lobster

I’ll be reviewing the Schiaparelli Spring 2014 Couture Collection. I know, I know, I’m late, but it’s spring, and it’s Schiaparelli, and who can resist that combination? So here goes:

And… after a sixty year break since Schiaparelli unveiled her last collection, the brand – with Marco Zanini at the helm – has returned. Whenever I hear Schiaparelli mentioned, my mind immediately shifts to lobsters and inverted shoe hats. And who can blame me? These symbols have become the unofficial emblems of Schiaparelli and her creations. But of course, Schiaparelli is much more than that – she shocked the whole world with her designs! Her influence is still visible today, but as she lived at the same time as Chanel, she is mentioned much less frequently.

For those of you who are not Schiaparelli obsessed, I’ll give you a brief overview just to give you an idea of the amazing and influential woman she was. While her business never thrived, Time nevertheless placed Schiaparelli in the first division of fashion (over Chanel!!) in 1934, calling her an “arbiter of the ultra-modern haute couture… Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one to whom the word “genius” is applied most often”. And what a genius she was. Not only did she introduce a sense of playfulness and laissez-faire to fashion – foreshadowing Prada – she also bravely embraced the new technologies and materials of the time. She experimented with rayon jersey and acrylic, amongst others as well. This was the first time synthetic materials were used in couture! She also dreamt up the wraparound dress decades before DVF, created the first evening dress with a jacket, designed the first clothes with visible zippers, and crumpled up rayon half a century before Issey Miyake. Now that is a legacy to live up to.

Zanini, not altogether surprisingly, has still some catching up to do.

He captured Schiaparelli’s sense of humor, as seen here:



Look at that print!

He paired a beautiful evening dress with loose menswear:



Went crazy with the hair and materials:



But all of that does not a Schiaparelli make. Zanini adhered too much to her legacy – when in fact her legacy is to stray from tradition, to be bold and go forth! And that is exactly what this collection lacked. This is couture as well, and the designs were simply not up to that standard. I always expect more from couture. Of course, they are beautifully crafted and of superb quality, but they seem more ready to wear. A certain je ne sais quoi is missing. Although I do not blame Zanini – he is an incredibly talented designer, and he has huge shoes to fill – an intimidating task for any man! 

This collection does possess a lot of potential though, so I am looking forward to what will come in the future.



p.s. What do you think of Schiaparelli? And have you ever cooked a lobster? I haven’t… 🙂



3 thoughts on “Schiaparelli is Back – Without the Lobster

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