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The Very Long Schiaparelli Striptease (Finally) Draws To An End. Almost.

Apr 18 2013

Elsa Schiaparelli:Relaunch:Surrealist Details

First came the announcement that the fabled house of Schiaparelli had been acquired by Italian financier and Tod's owner Diego Della Valle way, way back in May 2007. Much speculation ensued about the identity of the eventual designer who would be entrusted with reviving the house until it dragged on for so long that everyone lost interest and moved on.

Then, in May 2012, Della Valle announced that the uber-elegant Farida Khelfa, muse to both Jean Paul Gauthier and Azzedine Alaia, had been appointed brand ambassadress, a move that calls to mind Della Valle's choice of the equally elegant Ines de la Fressange to guide designer Bruno Frisoni's revival of the Roger Vivier brand a decade ago. Everyone applauded and speculation about an imminent appointment of a designer began anew. Moreover, Ms. Khelfa announced at last November's IHT Luxury Conference in Rome that the brand would be unveiling a haute couture collection this coming July. Cue renewed speculation and excitement but still no designer.

Last week, we learned from WWD that Marco Zanini (an alumnus of Versace and Halston currently ensconced at Rochas) perhaps may be headed to Schiaparelli (the leak remains unconfirmed to date) while yesterday, it was announced that Christian Lacroix will be designing the brand's upcoming couture collection. The latter will be a one-off collection composed of fifteen pieces which will reinterpret Schiaparelli's most iconic pieces. According to press reports, his mini-collection will then be followed by various artist collaborations, a nod to the founder's affection for the surrealist movement, details of which often found their way into her couture creations.

I'll be perfectly honest. I'm just a little bit baffled by the unfolding of the Schiaparelli relaunch. No doubt this stems in part from the fact that Della Valle's orchestration of the Roger Vivier brand revival has become a virtual blue print for operations of this type for its graceful restraint and flawless execution. I simply don't understand why the house of Schiaparelli needs a haute couture collection designed by one designer and a pret-a-porter collection designed by another. I also don't understand why we need a one-off collection revisiting Schiaparelli's most iconic designs. Wouldn't an updated version of her most successful designs (like the updated Roger Vivier Pilgrim buckle shoe) be the key to seducing the monied customer with a discerning eye and a taste for whimsical details? Then again, what do I know? I'm just a consumer.

We'll all just have to wait some more.


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There have been relaunches of fashion houses over the years and very few have even come near to what the brand and house once stood for...Halston,Vionnet to name just two...not every new generation of fashion followers have interest in following old houses come to life...some actually prefer the "new" new!

Every "new" old brand...needs a creative designer that "speaks and is in touch" with the fashion feels of the moment and then needs the talent to give it the right twist,so that it will speak and appeal to the new generation of monied customer!

What about brand identity? The best fashion houses often have a clearly identifiable style. This goes not only for big houses like Chanel and Dior but also for tiny independent ones like Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten or Azzedine Alaia. Successful accessories brands also have a clearly identifiable style. Think of Manolo Blahnik or Roger Vivier.

Yes, some designers can be capricious but the contribution of a talented, well-trained designer shouldn't be underestimated. The fact is that only a handful of hardcore fashion followers and fashion historians can reasonably be considered knowledgeabe about Schiaparelli's legacy. The brand will need someone to usher it into the consciences of a new generation of monied customer with appealing products that speak to Schiaparelli's legacy. The brand needs a strong identity. It's not nearly as easy as it sounds.


It will be nice to see what Christian L. will do for the brand...I really hope he will let the models stride down a catwalk carrying those Schiaparelli's shocking pink boxes,which really set the tone when they were released in New York in 1940!

The spectacular Elsa Schiaparelli was a one-off...she will be hard to top!

It might be a new way of running a more one and only exclusive creative designer for a house...but rather a a house will not be too dependent on those rather capricious desgners!

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The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.

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