#SuzyCouture: Schiaparelli: Flowers, Stars And Dreams

Among the flowers and stars that served as inspiration, the Schiaparelli show that kicked off Paris Haute Couture Week had another concept: Porcelain.  


“A taste of the 18th century – very audacious with a sense of freedom and fantasy,” said designer Bertrand Guyon, explaining his premise.


His themes – and those soft, sweet, porcelain colours – were a bold statement about prettiness on the runway, where the mood drifted between Twiggy in the 1960s in the miniskirts carved in satin to full-on evening glamour. That was most dramatic when model Erin O’Connor’s ballooning gown covered her imminent baby delivery.


The show in the richly-decorated Palais Garnier was spectacular – in a good sense. The designer presented himself as an artist with colour and on the haute side of couture. His decade with Christian Lacroix showed in the beautiful intricacy.

But Bertrand has to take a big gulp of 21st-century air and leave behind Schiap herself – whether running as an incessant commentary in his mind or as an actual presence, with her elongated egg-shaped face on the programme; or even embroidered in bugle beads on the bodice of a dress.


Schiaparelli has become a favourite on the red carpet for distinguished actors including Tilda Swinton and Emily Blunt, who wore a slithering satin, sapphire-blue dress for the London premiere of “Mary Poppins”. Sitting front row among two Downton Abbey stars were singer Pixie Lott and model Lottie Moss.

But what has Diego Della Valli, the Italian shoe genius and owner of Schiaparelli, drawn out of this collaboration? How to turn the Schiap heritage into a buck – without having a fragrance and beauty back up and a wider offering of ready-to-wear fashion? The CEO and President of Tod’s told me that he will have something to say in two weeks.


To ask what a modern woman wants with a puff of a dress in a circle of amethyst and ruby feathers, is to question couture itself, which has always been part-dream.

“The inspiration is Schiap’s childhood memories,” Bertrand said. “In her biography she talked about the visit to her Italian uncle in Milan and his records of the stars and constellations; and also the children in the garden playing with flowers, when she put something in her nose to grow.”


This translated in the sweetest way as an outfit called ‘Garden of Delights’, which was a flawlessly-cut strapless dress in leaf green with a garden of embroidered flowers and a ‘Shocking’ pink petticoat. Many other pieces had similar research and depth of design, but the result was light as the proverbial – and much used – feathers.


The Schiaparelli show really opened up the conversation about the conundrum of couture. With the mighty houses using haute couture as just another showing for publicity – and a splattering of clients – can any small, yet exquisite, fashion house live today on couture alone?


Bertrand, with his deep fashion knowledge, made a good job of waving the couture flag.