by HAMISH BOWLES

It is little more than six months since Daniel Roseberry joined the house of Schiaparelli, and he has certainly reset the dial on the storied brand whose creator was famed for her innovation, Surrealist whimsy, and embrace of the contemporary-art world. “It was a crash course in all things,” Roseberry explained, amid fittings on the eve of his second haute couture presentation, “in Paris, in couture, in the inner workings of the atelier.”

For the spring couture collection that Roseberry described as “the sequel” to his first, he decided to focus on the “double fantasy” of the protean Elsa Schiaparelli herself. He began planning the collection by looking at images of Schiap at work in her studio dressed in her inventive but pragmatic daytime outfits. These he contrasted with “the incredible Surrealist parties that she used to throw—this idea of the woman who dresses for herself during the day but then there’s this duality at night where it becomes performative. I became obsessed with the contradictory personality, the introvert-extrovert idea,” he continued, “trying to embrace those two different extremes and remove all the middle, and do something that feels uniquely Schiap and personal.”

Roseberry also looked at Schiap’s 1930s friends and collaborators, including the modishly minimalist Deco Moderne furniture and interior designer Jean-Michel Frank (for a daytime palette of cerused oak and parchment that he mixed with navy and cigar brown) and Alberto Giacometti (for the skeletal jewels and rhinestone “bone” embellishments that also referenced Schiaparelli’s own shocking padded jersey skeleton evening dress of 1938). Schiap’s favorite flower, the iris, and the dressmaker’s tape measure (from the packaging of the original Shocking perfume bottle), as well as house icons such as the padlock, also made cameo appearances.

The Dallas-born Roseberry brought his own uniquely personal references to bear too, looking, for instance, at 1980s copies of Sports Illustrated featuring the pulchritudinous Elle Macpherson, which inspired playful swimsuit-back dresses with trompe l’oeil tan lines or reveals of net or leather the color of the model’s skin (an effect that met with varying degrees of success). J.Crew catalogs of the same period inspired broad varsity stripes in incendiary colorways.

With more time under his belt at the house to get to know the all-important workrooms, Roseberry has had the opportunity to focus on tailoring—always a mainstay of Schiap’s own work—and the collection opened with some stylish options for the couture client who doesn’t just emerge after dark. Standouts included a classic navy pantsuit with a collar that morphed into a whoosh of organza suggesting a head in the clouds; a simple boxy tan beige spencer jacket embroidered with a continuation of the model’s elaborate chandelier drop earrings; and a lean buff coat exploding with the coruscating Schiap Sun King Lesage embroidery motif on the back. Those “psycho chic” day clothes, as Roseberry described them, morphed into evening pieces that evoked Schiap’s dreams—dreams that his elegantly self-penned program notes explained “were active, propulsive, exuberant, extravagant, rebellious, [and] ambitious”—and nodded to Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix’s ’80s and ’90s couture work in striking ultramarine, scarlet, viridian, and of course the brand’s own iconic shocking pink. While some of Roseberry’s propositions seem like works in progress, that is perhaps the nature of creativity, and with the strengthened tailoring his vision for this legendary house becomes more quietly persuasive by the season.

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