Putting the return of the once-reigning king of couture (sorry, Karl) in context.
1. It’s a one-off
Earlier this week, the buzz was that Rochas’ Marco Zanini was headed there as creative director. That’s still unconfirmed, though what we do know is that Lacroix is only confirmed for one collection, where he will reinterpret 15 iconic Schiaparelli creations for a Paris show in July.
2. Lacroix has loved Schiaparelli since, like, ever
When news of his appointment broke, he told French magazine L’Express that “Elsa is a sacred sphinx […] My wish is to reinstate her at the centre of her fashion house and on the stage through which she seduced the world.” But his love affair started early: when Lacroix set up his label in 1987, he said: “I want to get back to the position where the couture becomes a kind of laboratory of ideas, the way it was with Schiaparelli 40 years ago.”
Before World War II, Schiaparelli was regarded as one of the greatest designers in Europe (alongside her biggest rival, Coco Chanel). But she failed to adapt to post-war austerity and the label wound down in 1954. Till now, Schiaparelli’s ultra-modern inventiveness and wit lived on in her constantly-referenced designs. So thank god for Tod’s Diego Della Valle, who purchased Schiaparelli in 2006 and announced his plans to revive the label last year.
4. He is the king of spectacle
Lacroix’s spectacular shows are the stuff of legend, and embodied the excess and spectacle of fashion in the 80s and early 90s. Given that fashion crowds have grown accustomed to shows where Karl Lagerfeld rolls a giant globe onto the runway, we can expect Lacroix to throw everything he’s got at an extra-fabulous return.
5. Couture is back, in a big way
Last year, you couldn’t move for trend pieces heralding the return of couture – something that was unthinkable even a few years ago, when it was accused of being too fussy, too elitist, too stuffy. Now, orders from cash-rich customers in Asia and the Middle East have supplanted the usual European crowd and are driving couture to ever more extravagant heights. Why shouldn’t Schiaparelli get some of the action?
When the business went into administration in 2009, no less than the French Cultural Minister said the death of the Lacroix couture would be a “national disaster”. Lacroix stumped up the cash himself to fund his last autumn/winter collection; each model was paid only €50 and milliners, seamstresses and tailors all worked round the clock for free as a final send-off. Since the demise of his house, Lacroix has worked for Desigual and designed for hotels and the stage – so Schiaparelli represents his triumphant return to couture. We hope.
Words: Zing Tsjeng