Schiaparelli kicked off the Parisian fashion week with a spectacular demonstration of its surrealistic aesthetic, featuring three outfits that included disturbingly realistic replicas of animal heads: a snow leopard, a lion and a wolf.
Kylie Jenner caused a stir among photographers when she arrived in a customized version of the lion-head dress, which drew double takes from other front-row guests. While some online commentators praised the artistic merit of the reproductions, others accused the house of promoting trophy hunting.
Speaking before the show, creative director Daniel Roseberry noted that while the house’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, worked with Surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí, the trompe l’oeil is more literal in the era of social media. The creatures are a reference to Dante’s “Inferno“, which heavily influenced the Spring/Summer collection.
The designer explained that the outlandish looks reflect his conception of couture as a space for experimentation and wonder. Behind the headline-grabbing runway looks, Schiaparelli has a thriving and practical tailoring business that caters to women’s needs. The house indicated in its collection notes that the hourglass silhouette was actually inspired by its 1937 perfume, Shocking. Roseberry said that after evoking the archetype of the Parisian couture client with his 80s-inspired creations last season, he wanted to offer something more accessible.
After Monday’s uproar, it’s safe to say that the animal heads will not make a repeat appearance on the red carpet. The controversy overshadowed what was otherwise a superb collection. Let’s hope it doesn’t dampen Roseberry’s willingness to innovate.