FASHION

Daniel Roseberry Rebuilds the Surreal World of Schiaparelli, One Planet at a Time


Backstage at the Schiaparelli spring 2022 haute couture show. Photograph courtesy of Schiaparelli.

At 10 AM on a gloomy, freezing-cold Monday in Paris, people of all ages descended the steps at the Petite Palais following Schiaparelli’s genre-defining haute couture show. Most of them wore highlights from the collection: golden-toed, clawlike heels; shocking pink dresses; and padlock-shaped jewelry hanging from their ears like Christmas ornaments on a perfectly decorated tree. A star-studded front row took in the presentation, titled “An Age of Discipline,” that morning—Laverne Cox joined fellow designers Olivier Rousteing and Simon Porte Jacquemus to contribute major star power. The two guests of the moment, however, were indisputably Kanye West and girlfriend Julia Fox—who showed their proximity to Schiaparelli the day before, when they made an appearance at the Kenzo show: Fox wore a signature cone bra denim jacket paired with Schiaparelli designer Daniel Roseberry’s own jeans.

“We were making this custom coat dress for her that she wore to the show, and then Ye saw the jacket on the hanger with the boob tubes,” explains Roseberry, the artistic director of the brand, who has held the position since 2019 and previously spent over 10 years designing for Thom Browne. West immediately wanted to try the full look on Fox, but the matching jeans were missing, out on a press loan. Rather than tell West the jeans weren’t available, Roseberry did some quick thinking: “I thought to myself, she should wear my jeans because my jeans would look so sick on her. And my jeans, I actually stole from my boyfriend Adam—they are his favorite pair.” Within 30 seconds, they were off the designer and on her, then returned to Roseberry by 3 PM the same day. “I was like, these are my favorite pair of jeans, maybe my favorite piece of clothing I own. I need to have them back.”

Unsurprisingly, under the new Schiaparelli, celebrity dressing is at the core of the unconventional label. Adele, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Regina King, Cardi B, and Tilda Swinton were all dressed by the brand within a few months of one another. But Roseberry insists it’s less of a strategy and more of a means of communication. “I really love engaging with those figures that are creating pop culture,” he explains to me after the show at the label’s headquarters in Paris. “It doesn’t feel like a strategy in an opportunistic way, because we’ve never paid anyone and we’ve never really reached out to anyone, either.”

A look from Schiaparelli’s spring 2022 haute couture collection.

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

It’s no wonder celebrities are lining up to wear the label’s latest creations, which include on-the-verge-of-absurdist breastplates, supersized drop earrings, and golden bejeweled blazers—all catnip for celebrities and photoshoots. The designer is still cautious after a blowout year of celebrity dressing, during a pandemic, no less. “I am aware that it’s now a part of how we communicate and that’s something that’s hard to maintain,” he explains. “It could be too much where it could eclipse the clothes, in a way.”

Part of the new Schiaparelli’s appeal to celebrities is doubtless the provocation that comes with it: golden nipples embellished on shirts, twisted cone boobs that protrude almost a full foot in length, sheer layers revealed under razor-sharp tailoring and jewelry that transcends clothing, barely covering skin and layering it instead with gold, stones, and surreal elements like fake eyes. “I think embracing the body is a subconscious form of liberation, too,” Roseberry tells me.

The spring 2022 haute couture collection had plenty of that—but also put forward a new aesthetic involving simplicity and monochrome. The entire collection consisted only of three colors, black, white and gold—a stark departure from the label’s previous maximally hued looks. “I have to say, the process of couture has become so thrilling and so comforting,” says Roseberry, on designing during the pandemic. The spring 2022 haute couture collection was also the first time we saw Roseberry experiment with larger-than-life, sharp shapes that engulfed the wearer, but at the same time, revealed them. The inspiration was rooted in the 1960s, space, and the movie Dune—especially the chunky gold earrings and bags shaped like planets. Golden rings of Saturn orbited black structured bodices and spliced strips of gold metal delicately balanced around the models as they walked, like living art.

Looks from the Schiaparelli haute couture 2022 collection.

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“I think that’s where the rich austerity of the collection came into play, because instinctively, everything just looked so good in black and white, and we kept trying at the beginning of the fittings to see if color would make sense. Gold really became the salvation of the collection,” Roseberry says.

That gold hue—not too brassy, nor too rose-hued, but infused with pieces of 24 karat gold leaf—has, in a way, become a signature color of the brand, much like the shocking pink hue the founder of the house, Elsa Schiaparelli, once made ubiquitous. Nowadays, clients come in and get plaster molds taken to form elaborate gold metal clothing, which verges on full-body jewelry. For even more complicated pieces, sheets of metal are hammered into place by a longtime artisan for Schiaparelli.

This idea relates to the bigger picture of Roseberry’s life, when he experimented with jewelry as clothing, and vice versa, as a child. “When I was 12 years old, I started taking Christmas decorations very seriously at my house,” he says. “It was always about gold and taking a really simple base, putting lights on it, and then putting on the gold. I love the severity of the silhouette and then the ornamentation really coming into conflict.” When Roseberry first started working for Schiaparelli, he tried putting signature elements that have now come to represent the brand—like body parts—on the clothing via embroidery. “But it just didn't look modern at all,” he recalls. That’s how metal noses painted gold, nipples, breasts, and bare torsos found their way onto blazers, dresses, and denim jackets—in some cases, usurping the entire garment.

But you might be wondering who is buying these kinds of pieces, and more importantly, who is wearing them. According to the designer, the couture offerings are ordered just as much as the label’s white wedding gowns, with a strikingly similar intent: “I think they might want to be photographed in it, but it’s more of an object to have as a sculpture.”

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Since Schiaparelli as a label holds a massive history, one of Roseberry’s favorite things to do is look back at its codes. Founded in Paris by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1927, the designer started out making hats before moving into surrealism. She was avant-garde and before her time in every way, collaborating with artists such as Salvador Dali and working with Man Ray. “I love that the house is not bound by a silhouette,” says Roseberry. "As opposed to other houses from that era, which are linked to a specific cut. The house is about art and its relationship to fashion; we’ve barely been able to tap into that [yet].”

That being said, Roseberry isn’t particularly interested in collaborations. “I’m not gagging for collaborations because they feel not the point right now for me,” he says. He’d rather create a furniture line for the house, or even makeup. “I wanna make lighting. I wanna make sofas. I want custom furniture. The voice of the house is authoritative enough and I would love to see it put into [those] realms.”

What’s next in the chapter of Schiaparelli by Daniel Roseberry? Thinking even bigger about how couture and clothing can be transposed. “The only thing that limits couture is budget,” says Roseberry. “I was talking to Stephen Jones about John Galliano at Dior because that is a hugely formative reference for me. He said those collections were the product of two things: One was no fear. Two was no budget.”