Schiaparelli’s SS 2023 Couture Collection Blurs The Lines

Schiaparelli’s latest is an homage to doubt.

Schiaparelli’s SS 2023 Couture Collection Blurs The Lines
Saif Hidayah

The SS23 couture collection from Schiaparelli, designed by Daniel Roseberry and titled “Inferno Couture”, was an homage to doubt, inspired by the work of Dante Alighieri, particularly “The Divine Comedy” — a 14,233-line poem which was divided into three books: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Roseberry was drawn to Inferno’s perfect metaphor for the torment that most creative people experience when they sit before their work, shaken by doubt and things they do not know. 

“When I’m stuck, I often take some comfort in thinking of Elsa Schiaparelli: the codes she created, the risks she took, are now the stuff of history and legend, and yet she too must have been uncertain, even scared, when she was inventing them. Her fear enabled her bravery, which sounds counterintuitive but is key to the artistic process. Fear means you’re pushing yourself to make something shocking, something new,” explains Roseberry.

Schiaparelli’s SS23 runway collection highlights the doubt that almost always surrounds creation and intent — the often contradictory impulses to please one’s audience and oneself. In this collection, Roseberry stepped away from techniques he understood and was comfortable with, choosing to challenge himself in a world that is unfamiliar and at times may appear frightening. 


In line with the theme of doubt — nothing is as it appears and in this case, we’re referring to the garments themselves. Inspired by the leopard, lion and she-wolf, Roseberry felt himself drawn to their representation of lust and pride. Each piece was constructed entirely by hand, from foam, resin, and other manmade materials. Naomi Campbell showcased a furry coat with a black wolf’s head on her shoulder, while Shalom Harlow wore a leopard print dress with an incredibly realistic leopard baring its teeth on her chest. Kylie Jenner, who sat front row, wore an asymmetrical draped dress in black stretch velvet, worn with hyper-realistic faux lion fur and handmade resin head on the sleeve. 

Many took to social media to voice their concerns over the promotion of animal cruelty and glorifying the killing of animals. However, they were rebuked by PETA — who have long spoken out against the use of real fur and leather in the fashion industry. Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal-rights group, said that the look “celebrates lions’ beauty and may be a statement against trophy hunting in which lion families are torn apart to satisfy human egotism.” She went on to say: “These fabulously innovative three-dimensional animal heads show that where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Schiaparelli Schiaparelli

Other pieces were inspired by the “slippery, house-of-mirrors quality of [Alighieri’s] Inferno,” according to the house. Whether it be the dresses made from leather-slicked slabs of tin, baubles  made from wooden beads covering a skirt, or the iridescent column dress, which was hand-painted and changed colour depending on your perspective — nothing was at it seemed, for surrealism lives at the heart of Schiaparelli.

Drawing on Elsa Schiaparelli’s enduring connection with the house, which always promised an element of surprise, the re-emergence of Schiaparelli under Rosebery in recent years is an homage to the past and a hint of a wonderful future.

Elsa Schiaparelli always promised surprise in her work, and over the years, people have learned to approach Schiaparelli in a spirit of wonder; you don’t know what you’re going to encounter here, but you know that the story will be different each time. This season, “Inferno Couture” blurred the lines between the real and the unreal and served to remind Roseberry that there is no joy without sorrow, no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt.

If there’s anything we’re sure of, it is the fact that Roseberry lives up to the dreamy nature of couture every season, giving us the room to wander beyond the borders of reality.

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