« C’est bien » one guest said as they were leaving the Hôtel d’Evreux, summing up the feeling that emanated from this first collection by Marco Zanini as creative director of Schiaparelli. The reawakened house is undoubtedly the focal point of the season, not only for this first show but also because of the upcoming auction of some of Marisa Berenson’s personal collection. Sixty years have passed since Schiaparelli last showed and the turnout at this relatively intimate showing was as impressive as the occasion demanded, including house muse Farida Khelfa and former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Bruno Frisoni and Jean-Paul Gaultier, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, Inès de la Fressange and a cadre of Condé Nast’s finest.
The guests passed through a row of columns laden with fragrant jasmines before passing through the opened bamboo cage that Jean-Michel Frank had designed for Madame Schiaparelli’s atelier – well, its new incarnation – in which were branches laden with cherry blossoms. Inside, no extravagance but slight touches of Shocking Pink were striking against the white backdrop, as her signature on the programs and dipped edges along the show runner. Hamish Bowles wore socks that matched the hue superbly.
For those who had been missing a certain theatricality in couture since the retreat of John Galliano, today offered a modicum of solace as Zanini recaptured this kind of ambience, albeit dealt with a more delicate, contemporary hand. Schiap’s signature was of the surreal, but here the incumbent designer blended the dream to reality. The opening silhouette - ivory and shocking pink suns on a barely seen royal blue background, worn with a straw bicorne-like hat under which peeked electric blue hair - summed up his attitude towards the house: unobvious references such as the colored silk hair Schiap had created with Antoine in the 1930s and her military inspirations, particularly the napoleonic ones. What was very Schiaparelli were the juxtapositions; a gold mini-dress with a man’s dressing gown, albeit in spotted silk chiffon; black velvet cut in a top, paired with palazzo pants embroidered with African figures; reversible evening coats richly embroidered.
Also, in complete non-conformity with our youth-obsessed industry is the cast of women, not barely legal girls, who walked. Stella Tennant opened while Chrystelle – one of the Supes favored by Lacroix and Gaultier in the 1990s – stunned in an almond green number embroidered with crystals.