The house of Elsa Schiaparelli makes controversial come-back with collection not for sale

As expected, the comeback of the iconic couture house of Elsa Schiaparelli could not have been an ordinary one. After an absence of almost six decades, its new owner, Diego Della Valle (Tod’s Group) has entrusted with couturier Christian Lacroix to stage an installation rather than a catwalk to mark the occasion.

The 18 outfits, for display only, are part of an installation at Musée Arts Decoratifs were created by Christian Lacroix, whose association with Schiaparelli is limited to this collection, and ends now. None of the outfits on display are available to buy, at any price. In another controversial note of the re-launch, six years after Diego Della Valle bought the Schiaparelli house, there is no official confirmation of the Creative Director of Schiaparelli, allowing for many rumours.

For Christian Lacroix, this was his first Paris fashion week appearance since his label was forced to close four years ago. Lacroix has since been involved in several projects such as designing costumes for opera and ballet, curating exhibitions, and designing hotel interiors. His fashion brand is currently licensed but limited to menswear.

The appointment of Lacroix to create this curtain-raiser for the Schiaparelli brand was inspired. There are natural synergies between Lacroix’s aesthetic and that of Elsa herself, particularly in gloriously eccentric colour combinations (billiard green with Shocking pink, paprika red with electric blue) and flamboyant silhouettes untramelled by narrow metropolitan ideas of chic. (Lacroix, a native of Arles, told Womenswear Daily this week that he and the Rome-born Elsa Schiaparelli “were really the same, from the Mediterranean, Latin people fascinated by Paris.”)

The cage which stood at the door of Schiaparelli’s Place Vendôme boutique was reconstructed in bamboo at the entrance to this display. Virtual hummingbirds on mini iPads fluttered among the silk cherry blossom, a neat modern update on Elsa Schiaparelli’s obsession with birds, bugs and insects. On the clothes themselves, displayed on mannequins on a golden carousel, Lacroix paid homage to Elsa the surrealist with a golden bug brooches menacing the hip of a tailored jacket. The sharp points of a corset neckline were modelled on an upside down heart. Lacroix echoed the deeply artistic nature of Schiap’s studio, by abandoning any notion of wearability: one crinoline skirt in this collection is made up of so many layers that it weighs almost 40kg.

The house of Schiaparelli has formally confirmed it will deliver both ready to wear and haute couture collections starting 2014, with its headquarters at 21 Place Vendôme housing the Schiaparelli flagship boutique once again.

adapted from The Guardian / WWD

Elsa Schiaparelli comeback installation by Christian Lacroix in Paris