Daniel Roseberry hasn’t hit the two-year mark at Schiaparelli yet, but his tenure-defining moment has been made. Last Wednesday, Lady Gaga wore a black fitted jacket, red silk faille ball skirt, and a golden dove brooch of his design to sing the national anthem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“I’m shaken to the core, to be honest. It was such an honour,” said Roseberry, who’s a native Texan. “I remember when Thom [Browne] dressed Michelle Obama for the second inauguration [Browne is Roseberry’s alma mater]. Whenever anybody wrote about him afterward—for years—it was the opening line. For a house like Schiaparelli,” he continued, “dressing Gaga for the inauguration speaks to capturing the moment. That’s what I’m trying to do with all of our celebrity moments: to nail the zeitgeist.”
In 2020, the year without red carpets, Roseberry had more than his fair share of celeb moments—Kim Kardashian West in her Grinch-meets-Hulk Christmas Instagram look not least of all. If that outfit, with its six-pack bustier in moulded green leather, was more divisive than Gaga’s, the couturier welcomes it.
Roseberry’s instinct this season was to zap the stuffiness out of haute couture once and for all. He’d been pushing the house, which was quite strait-laced before his arrival despite Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous Surrealism, in a new direction. But the eccentricities of his earlier outings were just him warming up. “Ever since I came back from lockdown, there’s been a shift for me mentally here—a focus and confidence that’s come from my relationship to my own process and to the atelier,” he said. Synthesising his point of view, he added, “It’s just something that’s not as polite as couture typically tends to be.”
If there’s one piece that says his incubation period is over, it’s a Madonna and Child breastplate, but there’s no shortage of statement-making bijoux here, from the tooth pearl earrings to the fingernail rings. “It isn’t about being too perfect for me,” Roseberry said, “but it is about shutting the moment down.” On that note, the look book opens with another super-heroine bustier, this one in glossy black finished with a prodigious bow in Schiaparelli’s signature shocking pink. (The concept for the molded bustiers predates KKW; they’re modeled on a pair of lifelike mannequins, which Elsa kept in her salons and that now stand sentry in Roseberry’s work space. “They’re my homage to her,” Roseberry said.) A different dress in the same electric pink hue accentuates not just gym-toned abs, but trapezius muscles and biceps.
“If you want to look like a cupcake, you can go somewhere else,” Roseberry said with a laugh before getting serious. “I started thinking, is there something about couture that’s sort of misogynistic, that demands or expects that a woman wants to look hyper-feminine and dainty and Bridgerton adjacent?” He clarifies, “It’s not about being a man at all, it’s about being a jacked woman.”
A stretch-fabric dress knitted with more than 200,000 Swarovski crystals will appeal to clients whose own well-maintained physiques require no surface-level enhancements. Elsewhere, Roseberry made exuberant use of volume. A black column dress with ample folded sleeves would make a spectacular red carpet dress, but he also designed a couture jean jacket and a couture parka with grand hoods.
Fashion watchers have spent this pandemic asking ourselves how it will change fashion. How women will dress when they reemerge after a year—or more—of lockdown. With Kamala Harris in the vice president’s chair, this American couturier’s radical vision of heroic female strength is powerfully irresistible.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com