Fashion

01.21.14

Schiaparelli Returns to Couture at Paris Fashion Week

After 60 years, Schiaparelli is back with a couture runway full of playful, elegant, and irreverent looks for the modern woman.

“We need confident women,” said designer Marco Zanini backstage on

Monday, following the first Schiaparelli couture show since 1954, where eclectically clad women walked in flat feathered sandals.

Speaking backstage at the Place Vendome, where the newly revived label is headquartered, Mr. Zanini said that he had Schiaparelli’s “non-conformist” woman in mind with the shoes, and the late designer’s “elegance and chic” for the garments, in this collection dedicated to irreverence in beauty and elegance. 

“Schiaparelli was not just a great designer but also a big personality in the early 20th century, and it is about time to talk about her again,” he said. “I wanted to introduce all of the elements of her personality and celebrate her legacy.” 

The Schiaparelli Spring/Summer 2014 collection can be seen as something of a tipsy take on couture. It was a breath of fresh air, combining flamboyant touches a la Schiaparelli with a feminine lightness and modernity that never looked too ostentatious, displaying, instead, creativity, elegance, and originality.

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Models walks the runway during the Schiaparelli show as part of Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2014 on January 20, 2014 in Paris, France. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)

This could also be seen in the creative headpieces—imagine a black pirate’s hat given a couture makeover and worn in a lop-sided fashion. The hat was paired with a full-length evening dress that looked both draped and modern, with a sexy revelation of the shoulders, and a color code of shocking pink and white circle-like patterns, decorating a royal blue background and made of silk crepe.

“Her legacy was very contemporary,” Mr. Zaninin said. “This is a very special moment. Shiaparelli has not shown for sixty years.”

Mr. Zanini also drew on the masculine. One look was a black wool tuxedo embroidered on the inside and worn with white silk ruffles, the pants hanging on the long side over black-feathered sandals. The model sported a black net across her made-up visage, adorned with a white feather hairdo, which looked glamorous and a little Grace Kelly. 

Interpreting the house codes for the modern woman, the third look was a sexy midnight blue-and-gold lurex bodysuit. Think couture for a Riviera beach party. It was worn with a midnight blue silk chiffon robe which made one think of seductive, languid nights for a woman clearly in charge, as she marches through the jungle of life in flat green sandals, remaining both grounded and seductive.

Mr. Zanini played with volume, such as an over-sized frizzed red hairdo, worn with a pencil-like silk chiffon T-shirt dress, which reached the floor and was decorated in stripes of multi-colored micro-paillettes.

Or consider the elegance and “invention” of a long ivory chiffon dress with draped sleeves—bombastic creations that ruffled into an elegant puff around the wrists. Channeling the 1920s, busy pajamas bottoms in silk crepe were printed in multi-colored Les Gardiens and worn with an asymmetrical T-shirt and a black hat that looked like a witches broom splayed across the head.

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Models walks the runway during the Schiaparelli show as part of Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2014 on January 20, 2014 in Paris, France. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)

Embroidery and reworked embroidery was high on the agenda. It could be seen on the pajama trousers embroidered in crystals, paillettes, and glass beads. Or on an iridescent gold and green suit detailed with iridescent green mirco-paillettes.

Mr. Zanini threw in plenty of ruffles and draping, but interpreted for Schiaparelli’s modern spirit. Think a manish jacket worn over a flowing dress. Or hats that resembled modernist sculptures. The collection was also playful, as in the combination of shorts made of striped silk faille worn with an opal green satin duchesse reversible opera coat.

“Her legacy was very contemporary,” Mr. Zaninin said. “This is a very special moment. Shiaparelli has not shown for sixty years.”