The setting and attitude may have been Parisian, but much of the spirit — and rich handiwork — of Francesco Scognamiglio’s City of Light couture debut belonged to his Italian homeland. The flowers peeling from a pretty violet silk-tulle dress were made on 18th-century machines by a Milanese firm that does all of the Vatican’s embroideries. The 3-D dusty-colored vintage silk blooms on a lovely floral jacquard cocoon coat nodded to the gardens of the tony Posillipo neighborhood of Naples, where the designer is based. And, on the upper section of a crystal-embroidered white lace column gown, a striking formation of organza discs evoking wings was inspired, said Scognamiglio prior to the show, by “the seagulls flying in the Capri islands, where I take my vacation.”
Showing couture in Paris has been a lifelong dream for the designer, who approached the show with a fitting sense of reverence despite the rush, having learned he was officially on the calendar only one month before Couture Week began. His collection’s opulence extended to crystal-embroidered veils, sculptural silver body jewelry in rose motifs, laced encrusted with real gold and silver and glittering Swarovski crystal-embellished underlayers on sheer gowns. The constructions and embellishments, like feathers coated with wax, were based on traditional couture techniques, but Scognamiglio gave them his own conceptual spin, with plissé ruffles gathered into dramatic floral formations, or forming a heart-shaped motif at the back of a dress. The opening look, a clear PVC dress worked in silver embroidery and Swarosvki crystals and fused with fox fur at the shoulder line, and a subsequent pencil silhouette that married black mohair and rhinestones, demonstrated his penchant for experimenting with fabric — and rock music.
An all-out display of his DNA was Scognamiglio’s mission for his bow on the world’s couture stage. Mission accomplished.