MILAN — In his new role as creative director of Schiaparelli, Marco Zanini is charged with reawakening a sleeping beauty, a brand that is inextricably linked to its founder, Elsa Schiaparelli — a formidable woman known for her unique talent.
In an interview Monday, shortly after the company confirmed his appointment, Zanini said that he was “very happy” and upbeat about the prospects. “The biggest and most interesting challenge is to bring Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy to the present and the future. She had an exceptional, incredible and intelligent approach; she was ahead of her times. The most interesting thing is to make her contemporary and current.”
Zanini will be responsible for the couture and the “prêt-à-couture,” or high-end ready-to-wear, collections. His first collection will be unveiled in January during Paris Couture Week.
“The project is based on excellence and quality, and a product linked to the future. I think my great passion for these elements played a key role in my appointment,” said Zanini, citing his long-standing “research for fabrics and sartorial quality.”
WWD first reported April 16 that Zanini, who just exited his role as creative director of Rochas after five years, could be on his way to the storied brand.
While the emphasis at Schiaparelli was initially expected to be on accessories, fragrances and cosmetics, along with some clothing, Zanini said “the global relaunch of the brand and its development will comprise all classic categories.” Although the brand has made fashion history, Zanini conceded the company “will work on brand awareness” from a vantage point of a “unique and unchanged” status in fashion, art and culture, and “the highest relevance in the world of creativity.”
Born in Milan in 1971 to a Swedish mother and an Italian father, Zanini will be based between Milan and Paris, where the brand is headquartered. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera in Milan and in 1995 began to work as an assistant to Lawrence Steele, joining Dolce & Gabbana in 1998. A year later, he moved to Versace, where he became responsible for the women’s rtw and Atelier lines. In 2007, he was tapped to rejuvenate Halston but left after two seasons and introduced his designs for Rochas in Paris for fall 2009.
Tiziana Cardini, fashion director at Italy’s upscale department store La Rinascente, hailed Zanini’s arrival at Schiaparelli as a good marriage with strong potential. “I hold Zanini in high regard. He has proven he has a personal vision, bringing his own style to a maison such as Rochas that didn’t have it,” said Cardini. “He will do very well at Schiaparelli. His designs are elegant, sophisticated, eccentric and have a touch of quirkiness that fit the brand.” Cardini recalled how Elsa Schiaparelli was associated with artists, an angle that “is very interesting” in light of the brand’s positioning. “The label has a special vision and a unique product, and there is room for growth if Marco respects the essence of the brand, which is couture with a strong, spectacular and daring component, and elements of experimentation,” explained Cardini.
Paola Brandi, founder of Paris-based brand development agency INKParis, who is also a contributing lecturer at Paris fashion school Esmod, said Elsa Schiaparelli, together with Madame Grès, Madeleine Vionnet and Gabrielle Chanel, are “fashion heroes, inspirational women and great innovators” who influence her students to this day. “When she was alive, she was an international talent, across borders, from city to city, and the relaunch today could work well if it is meant to be global — not that of an Italian brand based in Paris,” said Brandi.
As for whether Schiaparelli could be eyeing a new customer base in emerging markets, Brandi said that “Asia is a very difficult region to launch a brand, I see more potential in America, even more than in Europe. ”
Brandi underscored that Zanini added modernity to Rochas, an “effortless elegance and functional glamour” that have appealed to the modern woman, including bloggers, who “are a force in fashion.” While remarking on Elsa Schiaparelli’s uniqueness, how she was a “restless creative mind who took huge risks,” Brandi believes Zanini has not played all his cards yet. “There is more to him than what he has revealed so far,” she said, citing his minimalist streak as well as a more “flamboyant and surrealist spirit,” noting his passion for Tim Burton films.
“People will listen to him, and that could serve very well in marketing. He was free to create an aesthetic for Rochas, and Schiaparelli is largely unknown to the new generations, so he can interpret her spirit in different ways,” said Brandi.
Diego Della Valle, chairman and chief executive officer of Tod’s Group, acquired the Schiaparelli trademark and archive via a personal holding, Diego Della Valle & C. S.A.P.A., in 2006, and has the means to support the revamp of the brand. A savvy businessman, he has a diversified portfolio of investments, ranging from fashion and media to sports, manufacturing and transportation, including stakes in Saks Inc.; motorcycle firm Piaggio; iconic coffee-machine maker Bialetti, and RCS MediaGroup, which owns the newspaper Corriere della Sera. Della Valle was unavailable to comment on Zanini’s appointment.
Schiaparelli closed her Paris house in 1954 and died in 1973. The brand, dormant for decades, gained major exposure in 2012 when New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted the exhibition “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” at The Costume Institute.
Della Valle named Farida Khelfa, a muse and close collaborator of designers Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier, spokeswoman of the house in May last year. A month later, Camilla Schiavone, previously brand manager of L’Oréal’s fragrance division, was appointed ceo.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)