Surrealism is returning to New York City. The clothing label started by original fashion surrealist Elsa Schiaparelli is setting up shop outside of its original Maison located in the heart of Paris at Place Vendôme for the first time over 60 years. It will be a bit of a homecoming as the tony Fifth Avenue retailer carried the designs 90 years ago when the Italian designer launched her namesake brand until it closed in 1954.
The brand is on a growth trajectory currently spurned by buzzy American designer Daniel Roseberry. His designs are gracing A-List celebrities such as Lady Gaga, who wore a Schiaparelli gown with a gold dove to the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Operating as a Haute Couture house when relaunched, previous design director Bertrand Guyon had begun experimenting with ready-to-wear styles, especially in knits, until his departure in 2019. Roseberry is credited with taking the motifs of the house—the body and its many parts—and re-imagining them on modern designs. The codes recall Schiaparelli’s relationship with Surrealist and Dada movement figures like Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Alfred Stieglitz.
However, it’s a fitting location as almost from the time the designer launched her couture house in 1931, Bergdorf Goodman had carried the collection until it shuttered in 1954. According to Darcy Penick, President Bergdorf Goodman, the two entities’ connection reignited when Diego Della Valle announced he was relaunching the house in 2012. Next, in 2018 Schiaparelli launched its ready-to-wear collection with the retailer, becoming the first partner to carry the new division. “We both felt strongly that Bergdorf Goodman would be the perfect home for the ready-to-wear collections in the U.S. Seeing Daniel’s incredible vision – his delicate balance of heritage and modern artistic expression – solidified our belief that the BG customer will be thrilled by Schiaparelli’s presence,” she said.
The designated boutique will reside on Bergdorf’s fourth floor in space. Creative director Daniel Roseberry collaborated with architect Daniel Romualdez and drew inspiration from the original décor of Schiaparelli’s salons in Place Vendôme, which were the fruit of her collaborations with artists Jean-Michel Franck and Giacometti. It will not only resemble the Parisian Maison’s headquarters but will offer a similar experience.
“One of the reasons Schiaparelli was drawn to Bergdorf Goodman is the unique standard of client relations our selling team maintains. The level of hands-on, one-on-one client experience is unparalleled; we’re able to combine a traditional luxury experience with innovative digital touch-points,” said Penick.
While the traditional couture house appointment is reminiscent of Elsa’s reign, Roseberry and his team add a strong 21st-century digital presence. “Every aspect of Schiaparelli’s momentum has continued to build our enthusiasm for this partnership. From the runway to social media, Schiaparelli’s growth trajectory is appealing in its unique ability to balance both avant-garde creativity and true luxury,” she continued.
The new salon will be stocked with the Fall 2021 collection and include all facets of the ready-to-wear collection, including suiting, dresses, outerwear, energetic knits and signature accessories, especially eye-catching jewelry, all with a Surrealist nod. Also on offer will be a selection of evening cocktail dresses inspired by the label’s Haute Couture looks, designed exclusively for the retailer. This subtly hints at the decades-old practice of American retailers recreating Paris Haute Couture looks for their customers back home with guidance from the houses themselves. Three windows along the Fifth Avenue side of the store will showcase the new collection and recreate the house’s codes.
Penick feels this is the next step in their successful partnership. “This is not our first collaboration with Schiaparelli, and we are thrilled to welcome them back now with the first permanent store outside its Place Vendôme home. A profoundly artistic lens, unparalleled craftsmanship, and a decidedly unique point-of-view are all through-lines between what our customer expects and what Schiaparelli offers,” she said, noting the collection’s signature codes full of character and modernity.
Of the partnership, Roseberry explained it this way. “Our mission is to build an alternative Couture house, and our luxury ready-to-wear line presents us with the opportunity to do so. We care about the way people view, digest and interpret Couture through the world of Schiaparelli. Our ready-to-wear proposition is a way for us to balance the dreamlike storytelling of Couture with commercial credibility. This incredible retail partner understands our mission and provides the perfect environment.”
The brand’s New York connection traces to Elsa Schiaparelli’s life there with her dubious husband, Wilhelm de Kerlor. She would go back and forth after her daughter was born, and the marriage ended before settling back in Paris in 1922 for good. Inspired by Paul Poiret but lacking formal fashion design training, the Roman-born aristocrat channeled her love of the arts, specifically Surrealism on clothing. Her trompe l’oeil techniques on knitwear launched her career.
Simultaneously back in Paris, the salons Schiaparelli will remain open to private clients who can purchase both the Haute Couture and ready-to-wear, accessories and special capsule collections. To wit, on display after the Spring 2022 collection debuted in Paris, Roseberry explored the leisurely side of Madame Schiaparelli’s life and designs. It offers ready for the beach and weekend separates such as a group of stripes in both red/white and blue/white inspired by umbrellas seen on French and Italian riviera beach clubs.
“We strive to offer our clients moments that are exceptional experiences. The Salons Schiaparelli provides such a unique environment, warm and welcoming while immersing visitors into the incredible worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli and her friends – Dali, Man Ray, Giacometti, Jean-Michel Franck for instance. There is always something new to discover at the Salons,” explains Delphine Bellini, CEO of Schiaparelli.