“Fashion shows can sometimes feel like waking dreams,” said Daniel Roseberry ahead of his return to the runway today. It’s been exactly two years since the Schiaparelli mastermind presented his Haute Couture collection as a live event – only his second for the Maison. Yet this period, irrefutably the most upending and tumultuous in current history, has unfolded with phenomenal success for the designer, especially in the aftermath of Lady Gaga wearing one of his creations to perform at American President Joe Biden’s Inauguration.
Expressing equal parts gratitude and astonishment, Roseberry noted how 2021 “just built and built and built” and that the challenge for this collection was to “not design into that.” Careful to maintain an element of surprise, he suggested that we won’t be seeing a new wave of body-part jewellery. And au revoir to the poufs. “Even if people might know us for this, [I asked myself], ‘What do I really want to see right now?’ And colour and volume were things that immediately started to feel redundant,” he said. “I’m really trying to do something that would still elicit the same type of emotional, gut response that I’m always, always, always looking for but to do that in a new way.
So without further ado, the collection can now be discovered here, inaugurating the season’s Haute Couture calendar with signature Schiaparelli panache. Sure to dazzle us all over again, the genial designer hopes that wherever we are and whatever our mood, the show will have a temporary, transportive effect in still-uncertain times. “My dream is that you will be able to escape the listlessness for 13 minutes.”
What can you tell us about this collection?
Last year was about exploding and expanding. This year is about refining and going deeper. We put some structures into place. The colour palette became black, ecru and Schiaparelli gold. That was the first law. The second law was no more poufs of volume. And then the third law was that I wanted everything to be easy to move in, natural to look at, but still hyper-dramatic.
I didn’t do any sketching for this season; that’s the other big departure. I would say 95% of the creative process happened in the fittings in three dimensions, which was a huge act of vulnerability for me because sketching is what I always fall back on.
I love having a strategy and I want to wiggle into the perfect little niche in the echelon of houses and things. It’s also about that, too, I hope: A way of playing the game in a really smart way.
You named your Fall 2020 ready-to-wear collection, “Dreamer In Daytime.” This would suggest that you are a dreamer.
Yes. For me, dreams are always a way of escaping my present-day reality. Growing up in Texas and then working as somebody else’s number two, the disparity between the dream world that I had in my head versus the world around me was sometimes so vast that it was always about fulfilling this dream-like potential and the romance behind it all.
What about nocturnal dreams. Do you have them?
I am not a big dreamer at nighttime, and I rarely remember dreams.
So then you do not psychoanalyse your dreams?
Never have I ever.
Given that surrealism is embedded in the DNA of Schiaparelli, would you say there’s a link between our subconscious dreams and surrealism as an aesthetic?
I’ve become really sensitive about surrealism because I think it can become very tiresome very fast. And so I have instinctively taken a step back from some of the more obvious tropes, and tried to approach it in a way that feels sort of indirect. It can be so premier degré. There are only so many times you can put masks on people.
Had you dreamed of becoming a designer?
Always, since I was probably nine years old. I used to want to be a Disney animator and then I realised that I loved drawing, but I didn’t love drawing that much to the point I could draw things in motion. I had to go to church every week, so I was drawing fashion and going to these mini fashion shows where men and women got dressed up in what was basically high drag, and there was music and fragrance and flowers. That’s when I thought, ‘It is just like church!’
Why do you think people dream of working in fashion?
Fashion is not good at a lot of things, but we are really good at selling that fantasy and that dream.
In that case, how much of fashion comes down to selling the dream?
I think that question could sort of be reduced to something cynical. But I will say this: There were some periods during the creation this season where I would get up in the morning, walk from my apartment in the 7th arrondissement across the Seine, arrive to work and I know that the decisions that I was going to make that day with the team would be significant and I was going to have to live with them. But then the fittings would start, and I have not felt that elated since I was a kid on Christmas morning – or probably the month before Christmas decorating for Christmas morning! I said to the head of the flou atelier, ‘This is better than Christmas!’ To see the creative process take shape in the hands of such gifted artisans, that is the ultimate dream for me. And I couldn’t care less about the rest, honestly.
Do dreams help us make sense of reality or help us escape?
I guess I would say that sometimes escaping reality is the answer… Our dreams are where we’re our most child-like selves. That is real to me.
Do you have dreams that are unfulfilled?
That is a personal question. But I had it beautifully articulated by an astrologer who recently said, “The great challenge of your life is not the creative and it’s not the professional. The great challenge of your life is the domestic. And the relational.” So I would say that.
Is there someone whose dreams have inspired you?
I would say I am truly and deeply inspired by pop stars. The self-transformation of people who come from Podunk America or wherever and transform their vision of themselves and create a character – and then they create the culture around them. I always look to those people; I gobble those stories up.
What is your most fantastical dream for world?
That we would survive.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.