It seems ironic that a collection created as an "homage to doubt" per the Schiaparelli Spring 2023 couture show notes, could animate the kind of heedless and self-assured critiques from animal rights activists and armchair critics currently engulfing social media. But that's the kind of chatter that trailed after Shalom Harlow, Irina Shayk and Naomi Campbell (and before the show, Kylie Jenner) when they stepped out in a trio of looks inspired, respectively, by the Leopard, the Lion and the She-Wolf from Dante's The Divine Comedy.
This was no Cruella De Vil skinning one hundred and one puppies, rather Daniel Roseberry explained – and stressed – each of the taxidermy-like heads were made from foam and resin then covered in wool and silk. It's exactly the kind of thing we expect from a house whose legacy lay in surrealism and the fantastic – Elsa Schiaparelli was known for collaborating with Man Ray and Salvador Dalí after all. More importantly, what a start to Couture Week!
For Spring, like classics students and many artists before him, Roseberry was drawn to the imagery of Dante Alighieri's Inferno. “What appealed to me in the Inferno wasn’t just the theatrics of Dante’s creation – it was how perfect a metaphor it provided for the torment that every artist or creative person experiences when we sit before the screen or the sketchpad or the dress form," he explains, "when we have that moment in which we’re shaken by what we don’t know".
While lust, pride and avarice may have elicited the most attention, as sins almost always do, Doja Cat siphoned some of the gawking when the musician arrived at the Petit Palais covered in 30,000 red Swarovski crystals, a flaming image of tartarus herself.
The rest of the collection danced between surrealism and wearability, and in keeping with its theme, Roseberry created three looks for each of the nine circles of hell. But perhaps this is the part where Roseberry is wrong; for the collection was more heavenly than violent or treacherous. Unexpected materials carried out an optical illusion of sorts, whether it was the jade and emerald peacock chest piece, hand-painted velvets that changed colour or sequin fronds that appeared more raffia-like than anything else.
Two gowns with sheer panels – the opaque sections layered in ruffles on one, dense beadwork on the other – are primed for awards season. Although we expect stylists will be launching campaigns to get their clients in any one of the 32 looks. As always, Daniel Roseberry has sent out another showstopper to carry us through Couture Week. But back to that question of how to move past doubt as an artist? How to chime out all the voices, both external and in your head? Create like everyone is dead, a fantasy that can only harm as much as resin and foam.