Words by Daniel Roseberry

“Our last Couture collection was conceived in a brief period of hope: It was April. Vaccines were becoming widely available. Travel was becoming a possibility once again. We could begin to imagine that our collective nightmare was behind us, or at least would soon be.

And yet, now, braided with that hope is a sense of loss. The loss of people, most wrenchingly. But also, the loss of certainty; our loss of surety; the loss of our collective future. There is also the pervasive sense of exhaustion we all feel: That churn of red-carpet appearances, award shows, even fashion presentations—something about it feels lackluster. Aren’t we all exhausted by all of it? Fashion has insisted upon its relevance over these past two years, and yet I can feel that even some of its practitioners are no longer convinced. What does fashion mean, what does fashion have to say, in an era in which everything is in flux? And, with regards to this Maison, what does surrealism mean when reality itself has been redefined?

Throughout the 23 fittings for this collection, I realized that what felt exciting in this moment was something different, something restrained. Suddenly, color felt wrong to me. So, did volume. All of the tricks that couture designers (including me) use to communicate grandeur and craftsmanship—big silhouettes, glorious poufs of fabric, huge volume—felt hollow.

Instead, I wanted to see if we could achieve the same kind of drama and otherworldliness without relying on those tropes. All we needed, I realized, was black, white, and gold—yet it wasn’t so much a return to basics as it was a move towards the elemental.

After two years of thinking about the Surreal, I found myself instead thinking about the empyreal: The heavens as a place to escape from the chaos of our planet, but also the home of a mythical high priestess, at once goddess and alien, who might in fact walk among us. I imagined a being whose very clothes defied rules of gravity: She would wear razor sharp tailoring, with nipped waists and oversized “dove” collars ready to take flight. She would wear a short cream duckbill-backed jacket of tailors “U.S.” cotton toile, embroidered with vintage Schiaparelli palm trees that actually lifted themselves from her shoulders and stood upright at attention. She would wear neat shorts trimmed in ecru silk faille, beige satin waist cinchers, aerodynamic bustiers with cream satin sashes, and fountains of black crin that trembled and bounced in movement. She would wear a long tailcoat in satin back faille, embroidered with a vintage Schiaparelli motif – the Apollo Fountain of Versailles.

And finally, after the rigor of tailoring and exhausting a new, sharper silhouette, she would embrace her inner Folly – giving way to fountains of gold, black plumage, creepy crawlies in cabochons, and a crystal cocktail dress like the inside of a jewelry box.

This season orbits around an expansive redefinition of Schiaparelli gold. We have worked for seasons to perfect the shade—neither warm nor cool, neither brassy nor rose, this gold has been specifically formulated for the house, and includes pieces of 24k gold leaf.

We’ve executed it in two ways, both engineered by the extraordinary artisans we collaborate with. In the first treatment, we created naive sculptures representing the codes of the Maison, in clay and foam. From here, the eyes and padlocks, the Lobster, the Dove, and a litany of bodyparts, become molds for tissue weight leather.

The weightless sculptures are then gilded in 24K gold leaf and embroidered with vintage cabochons and crystals sourced from the late 1930’s. The effect is childlike and a little raw. The second you see in pieces like a columnar black silk jersey dress, its bodice overspilling with long, shivering strands of metal, as if a corset had overspilled its confines, comes from metal sheets and has been hammered, polished, and left to swoosh about like a jellyfish in water.

Designing this collection also made me realize something else. There are designers who design because they love clothes. There are designers who make clothes because they love the craft, because they love people. There are designers whose work is indebted to fashion as a concept, or to glamour as a business. But I design in order to make people feel something. When clothes and craft and hair and music and the wearer are in harmony together, when they are all trying to communicate something, we can be reminded why we love fashion—why I love fashion. It isn’t for the celebrities. It isn’t for the likes. It isn’t for the reviews. It’s because, when it’s done right, when it has something to tell us, it can help us feel the inarticulable. It’s because it still has the power to move us.”

-Daniel Roseberry