The bigger picture Schiaparelli’s delectable couture
The haute-couture shows are always a wilful tumble down the rabbit hole into a world of fantasy and excess, and Schiaparelli’s in Paris this week took us straight to a seat at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. But instead of watching a dormouse being forced into a teapot, here delectable treats were served up in silk and gossamer, as embroidery and in wool. Intricate cupcake-shaped appliqué and ink-illustrated artichokes and courgettes made a playful appearance on grand gowns and neat suits destined for the wardrobes of couture customers who like their fashion served up with a large helping of wit.
Creative director Bertrand Guyon has been at Schiaparelli barely a year, but he’s already playing glorious games with the surrealist heritage of the house’s eponymous founder. Elsa Schiaparelli made her name in the 1930s with structural, elegant yet spirited designs: one of her most iconic creations was a 1937 lobster gown in collaboration with Salvador Dalí. It was the surrealist painter’s erotic and comic cookbook Les Dîners de Gala, inspired by his wife, that provided Guyon with this season’s culinary inspiration. As if the macaron palette and delicately whipped-up dresses shown here backstage weren’t cheering enough, then think of them being worn to a feast hosted by Schiaparelli herself – someone who enjoyed her food. In her 1954 memoir Shocking Life she wrote, ‘Eating well gives a spectacular joy of life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship.’ Bon appétit.