There it was, the holy grail of Schiaparelli — shocking pink — in all its eye-searing glory: a draped gown in silk velvet, the neckline and plunging back embellished with a garland of fabric roses.

Marco Zanini worked up to this telltale color in his second couture collection for the long-dormant house. Here a vaguely Western shirtdress in dusty rose; there a sweeping maxi coat in Pepto-Bismol pink, and finally, a pair of high-waist hortensia trousers matched with a coppery silk blouse, its dense folds glistening like caramel pudding. “Controlled excess,” the Italian designer called it. “I tried to set myself free.”

With Christian Lacroix and John Galliano no longer plying the couture craft, Zanini has stepped in to offer flamboyance, eccentricity and boldness. Where else in Paris are you likely to find an evening gown in a hand-painted print mingling squirrels and their less popular cousin, rats? Or a cropped evening jacket with furry tinsel sleeves, as happy as Christmas morning?

Mindful that tailoring was the Roman founder’s most important legacy, Zanini hung this collection on demonstrative shoulders; each pad a hand-stitched creation of weightless wadding. They helped support the gorilla proportions of fur-sleeve coats and a bevy of boxy boleros, among the strongest items in the show, in such varied fabrics as brown leather, shaved beaver and glazed ostrich feathers.

A black zoot suit, replete with a watch chain, was the kind of thing you could see on someone like Inès de La Fressange, who took in the show along with Azzedine Alaïa, Christian Louboutin and Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Zanini’s clothes have a vintage quality that one hopes he shakes because there’s always room in fashion for color and whimsy, minus all the Forties signposts. Summing up the founder’s modus operandi in a preview, Zanini said she “helped modern women to assert their individuality.”


A personal project of Italian entrepreneur Diego Della Valle, the owner of Tod’s and Roger Vivier, Schiaparelli is concentrating on couture before branching out into luxury ready-to-wear and other products. Zanini gave a hint of things to come by including sunglasses, musketeer gloves and handbags — mostly furry clutches the models hugged like teddy bears.

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