Lockdown has been good to some designers. With virtual shows leveling the playing field between large and small houses, Daniel Roseberry has emerged as a rising star of the rarefied Paris haute couture scene with his Surrealist creations at Schiaparelli.
If anything, the limitations of lockdown emboldened the Texan designer to push his craft in unexpected directions, with hulking six-pack corsets and jewelry the size of prehistoric fossils. This season, he married his taste for extreme proportions with a more classical approach to couture.
It started with the discovery of some Schiaparelli swatches from the ‘30s in the drawers of embroiderer Lesage, which inspired a series of matador jackets — though compared with Elsa Schiaparelli’s original toreador tops, these were on steroids.
Curved sleeves sprouted metallic 3D ears, noses and lips, or were embroidered with ceramic eyes. A jacket pieced together from vintage Levi’s jeans featured mismatched breasts — one a pert metallic bosom, the other an abstract swirling cone — and panels of anatomically molded gilded leather on the back, down to the cheeky bum crack.
“I loved the irreverence, and doing this season with embroidery what we did last season with the jewelry,” Roseberry said.
Though the collection was called “Matador Couture,” he didn’t labor the Spanish influences. One jacket was made from old biker jackets, while another was embroidered with dyed roses, in homage to a coat that Schiaparelli made with poet and artist Jean Cocteau.
With their use of upcycled materials, most of these pieces can never be reproduced, not least the chandelier jacket fully embroidered in original crystals from the ’30s — talk about a “costume of lights,” as the Spanish call the bullfighter’s outfit.
Ditto the gilded floral body sculpture paired with a dramatic draped black taffeta evening skirt, which took metal work artist Michel Carel two months to complete. In the same group of dresses, a couple of black cocktail gowns sprouted dramatic bull horns at the neckline.
Roseberry closed his presentation at the Schiaparelli couture salon on Place Vendôme with a room full of color — reeling off the names of fabrics like orange double satin, blue peau de soie, pink faille and lavender taffeta like a couture lover’s poem.
Anyone seeking to make a splash at the Cannes Film Festival this week need look no further. A black column dress with an orange satin lip-shaped bustier, inspired by Salvador Dalí ‘s Mae West sofa, sprouted a flattering fishtail train and seemed like a clear frontrunner.
Roseberry said he wanted to bring back the joy of fashion, as the world emerges from darkness. In the absence of runway shows, celebrities including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have been flying the flag for his creations, but the designer’s ready to go back into the ring.
“I feel really good about the work that we’re doing here. I think the people who get it, get it really, really thoroughly,” he said.
“We don’t have those billion-dollar budgets, basically, and we’ve been really lucky with the digital because it’s really flattened the whole couture week so that the strongest collections can emerge. But I’m excited to get back out there with shows, and I’ve really cherished this year-and-a-half of being able to focus and really build my own language in my world,” he concluded.