When Elsa Schiaparelli was a little girl, her uncle Giovanni, a renowned astronomer, compared the beauty marks on her cheek to the stars forming Ursa Major. Years later, she commissioned a brooch in the shape of the constellation, which became a personal talisman.
That anecdote from her autobiography “Shocking Life” was one of the childhood memories that inspired creative director Bertrand Guyon’s spring haute couture collection, which explored the founder’s obsession with astrological signs and flowers through the prism of her lesser-known work in the Fifties.
Frothy tulle confections and colorful botanical prints contrasted with sequin-sprinkled gowns inspired by the sky at night, carrying evocative names such as Luna Orbiter, Zeta Draconis and Via Lactea. The latter, a ruffle dress in inky tulle, was embroidered with a sparkling milky way.
A master of the embellished jacket, Guyon introduced radical new shapes such as hourglass-shaped peplum jackets that came with matching bell-shaped skirts or shorts. He borrowed lush embroideries from antique porcelain motifs, and culled an astrological pattern from a 17th-century star atlas.
Guyon admitted that he wasn’t much of an astronomy buff himself, and doesn’t even read his horoscope. “It’s not something I’m naturally drawn toward, but it’s part of the DNA of the house,” he said backstage.
But he’s not immune to flights of fancy, such as the ball of feathers that the show notes described as a “Meteorid Swarm cape,” or a tiered pink tulle gown so vast, it totally swamped Erin O’Connor’s pregnancy bump.
Having relaunched its upscale ready-to-wear last year, Guyon has been pivoting the brand in a younger direction, with the help of Katie Grand, who styles his runway shows. Her influence could be felt in the edgy cast, which included Lily McMenamy, decked out in a star-pattered duchess satin gown.
“It’s a very current collection which is almost futuristic, even, because I wanted to work on totally different color combinations inspired by the porcelain of Sèvres, Chantilly and Meissen for the floral section. It’s also very humorous and optimistic,” Guyon said backstage.
The experiment is already paying off, and pulling in a different kind of star: among the outfits Lady Gaga wore to launch her new residency in Las Vegas on Sunday night were a custom-made Schiaparelli gown and cape.