“The final pink dress gave me shivers down my back,” said a smiling Meg Ryan after the debut collection by Bertrand Guyon for the house of Elsa Schiaparelli. “The black velvet dress too – with the stars at the shoulders,” added the actress after she congratulated the designer backstage. Also on hand, like two proud parents, were Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the duo designers of Valentino – the house where Guyon cut his teeth on couture. The three of them chatted away in lightning fast Italian and happily posed for photos together in front of a mood board of inspirations that looked more like a mood wall.
Clearly Guyon has been doing his Schiaparelli homework.
The designer called his first collection “Le Théâtre d’Elsa” as an homage to the surreal loving designer whose playful work made her the darling of the fashion world in the 1930s and 40s. What Guyon put up on the stage of his Elsa Théâtre was a collection that referenced the heyday of the house with its long lines and tailored designs.
He used fur as the primary avenue to inject a Schiaparelli-like oddity into his outfits. A mink skirt with a Bérard inspired face on the hip was not for the faint of heart nor was a shocking pink mink sweater with hearts carved into it. And he offered up quite a few exceptionally lovely evening dresses that had an old Hollywood glamour to them that never gets old.
The collection started off strong with an ornate deep green satin suit adored with golden embroidery. The introduction of an oversized brocade biker jacket, and later one in a glossy “rhodophane,” organza helped to make the vintage undercurrent of the collection gain a foothold in today. As did a sumptuous boxy top cut from crocodile and the fuzzy checked tweed pieces that begged to be stroked.
Where the lineup lost its way for a moment was in a series of brocade ensembles that fell too far into the realm of retro to feel relevant. But Guyon quickly got back on track by moving into flowing dresses covered in hand-painted prints and three-dimensional embellishments, while the final four looks were, as Ryan said, spine-tingling beautiful.