It’s weird, but is it weird enough? In the house of Schiaparelli’s past lives, that was often the question. Elsa Schiaparelli’s surreal legacy looms large, and it’s a tricky nut to crack, but Daniel Roseberry is proving himself a more than worthy inheritor.
“I really like the freedom in which Schiap explored things,” Roseberry said over Zoom. “You know, while Chanel was making buttons made out of double C’s and it was very much an exercise in branding, Schiap’s buttons were peanuts and wrenches and hammers and birds and insects. It’s kind of this referential gymnastics that I feel like we can have here, as long as it feels like part of one world and one language. People know they can go other places for more polite designs.”
If Roseberry has more freedom than his creative director predecessors that’s largely down to the fact that Lady Gaga wore his designs at the U.S. inauguration. Overnight, as he put it in the days afterward, Roseberry had a place in fashion history, and the label itself had a new international relevance and cachet. Unsurprisingly, the dove brooch that Lady Gaga wore to the inauguration has become a visual trope; it perches on the shoulder of a fitted black minidress among several other surreal bijoux and its outline is painted in black on a white button-down.
The doves, though, are absolutely the tamest part of Roseberry’s new collection. While his materials and silhouettes are indeed more or less polite, his embellishments are anything but. A blazer of tweed woven in Scotland and cut with the sartorial know-how he picked up in his decade-plus at Thom Browne would be conventionally luxurious were it not for the moulded gold leather breasts affixed to its front. “It’s about how can we own that thing for ourselves?” Roseberry said. Amidst the breasts and pierced nipples there are also ears, eyes, noses, and lips, all of which have been cast in gold, moulded in leather, or quilted in wool crepe.
“I don’t want to be precious about any part of the body; you know, it’s about kind of celebrating the whole thing,” he said. But that’s too easy. When the first known advertisement featuring lactating breasts aired just last week during the Golden Globes it made national news. Roseberry is no doubt well aware that breasts are a cultural flashpoint. Exploiting that flashpoint, he managed to render all the other designers playing with lingerie and kink this season look tame. Elsa could relate.
Roseberry will get a lot of attention for this collection. That’s good for Schiaparelli, but it’s also good for fashion. Ninety-some years ago Elsa was a foil for Coco, pressing her buttons. The industry could do with another provocateur; now is not the time to play it safe.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com