Haute Couture

Christian Lacroix’s Couture Collection for Schiaparelli

Christian Lacroix returned to fashion with a haute couture collection for the house of Schiaparelli that paid homage to the legendary designer. He talks to Alice Cavanagh.

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The haute couture Fall 2013/Winter 2014 presentations began in Paris on Monday, and first on the schedule was the unveiling of Christian Lacroix’s couture collection for the house of Schiaparelli. The collection, or “homage,” as it was called, was exhibited at Les Arts Décoratifs in the very same salon where Lacroix presented his own final collection four years ago. “It was just by chance,” the designer tells The Daily Beast. “But for me it is very symbolic.”

Lacroix produced 99 sketches in total, although they were narrowed down to 18 looks that were on display Monday. The designer, who is often considered one of the last great couturiers, jokes that he could have kept on sketching forever. “This is my passion, and it’s my preferred way of working,” he says. “It’s not fashion; it’s almost out of fashion. When I was a child, I dreamed of being a costume designer, and fashion came along by chance. I’m lucky that it’s lasted 30 years!”

Lacroix was a fitting choice to kick off the latest incarnation of the Schiaparelli maison. Using his taste for theatrics, he had mannequins on a mirrored carousel wearing wool-crepe dresses and coats adorned with sequins and feathers, chiffon evening gowns, ruffled blouses, embroidered bustiers, and dramatic harem pants.

Schiaparelli spokesperson Farida Khelfa commented while pointing at a leather-trimmed satin cape: “These pieces are really strong pieces, and they are all very Schiap.”

As a designer, Elsa Schiaparelli was the most risqué among her peers. She was known for her ongoing collaboration with surrealist artists and, on the flip side, for bringing functionality (albeit extremely chic functionality) to high fashion. One such example was a starting point for the collection Lacroix presented today. “The very first outfit I ever saw from Elsa was something she did in 1940 when the Germans were invading,” he explains. “She designed a jumpsuit to wear to the bomb shelter—so you could look stylish in the bomb shelter. To me that is genius.”

Lacroix’s collaboration is just a one-off at this stage, and sadly the garments won’t be available to order—the presentation is solely to acknowledge Schiaparelli’s legacy. A full-time creative director is still yet to be confirmed, but once the position is filled, two couture and two prêt-à-couture collections will be presented each year.