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  • Foto van schrijverJanneke de Haas

Schiaparelli's Surrealism

Ignited by the same spark that led me to study art, architecture and design in University a few years ago, I find myself writing about the Schiaparelli Couture Spring Summer 2024 collection, designed by Creative Director Daniel Roseberry, showcased yesterday. This fashion house, a perpetual source of inspiration with its provocative creations and the interplay between avant-garde and heritage, kick-started Paris Fashion Week at the Petite Palais. The internet exploded with ecstatic reactions, to say the least.

Hats off, Daniel. A true creation cowboy-style.

Image Courtesy of Schiaparelli


This collection set me up to wonder because of its many references to the surrealism that I knew from my student days. What is this connection between the Surrealism art movement and these garments?

Comparing these two seems intriguing for a deeper understanding of the subject, like the path I follow during my research when working on interior design concepts. Before delving into the collection, I thought it would be a great opportunity to refresh your - read: my personal knowledge - on Surrealism. Consider this a crash course on the art movement, so that by the end of this article, you'll have a better grasp of Schiaparelli's collection and can go on with your day as a renewed individual.

This collection shows that, in a world where much has been done in terms of design, the possibility of being unexpected and innovative is always possible.

But for Surreal

Golconda by Rene Magritte (1953)

Okay, in a nutshell: Surrealism, a 20th-century movement, is art's rebellious flirtation with the subconscious, where reality takes a wild detour. It's like dreaming, but with extra sass and a twist of the unexpected – a visual rollercoaster for the imagination.

Three famous rebels of imagination: Salvador Dalí, the master of bizarre dreamscapes with objects that seem to defy gravity. Then there's René Magritte, the conceptual sorcerer, turning everyday things into enigmatic puzzles. And don't forget Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss maestro who dared to coat teacups in fur with her surreal masterpiece "Luncheon in Fur." These three, the mischief-makers of art, danced on the edge of reality, leaving us enchanted with their whimsical, mind-bending creations. Surrealism's rockstars, bending the rules and making the mundane anything but ordinary.

It's like dreaming, but with extra sass and a twist of the unexpected – a visual rollercoaster for the imagination.

With Schiaparelli's collection drawing inspiration from alienation and space, the parallel with Surrealism highlights timeless principles such as delving into the subconscious and the pursuit of unexpected combinations. It's a journey where reality bends, and fashion becomes a tale, echoing the spirit of surrealism. Daniel Roseberry, a maestro of the extraordinary, transforms the runway into a canvas where each garment is a stroke of artistic brilliance, capturing the essence of a dream in every thread.

Unraveling the Showcase

Surrealists loved pushing boundaries, crafting unusual combos and visual wonders. You can clearly see this flair in how Roseberry weaves surreal principles into his collection—tech elements, unexpected material marriages, and playful forms. Through the surrealism lens, the collection becomes a fusion of unexpected elements, crafting chimeric looks that defy reality's limits. Unconventional pairings, hi-tech details, and artistic spins on iconography showcase the surreal aesthetic. The use of materials, shapes, and nods to space injects a dreamy, imaginative touch into haute couture, making it a captivating wellspring of inspiration for interior design. In the spirit of delving deeper, let's spotlight three designs that vividly illustrate the connection with surrealism, based on theme, techniques and symbolic meaning.

Look 1: The Mother

Epitomizes surrealism with a Swarovski-embroidered and upcycled computer chips dress, a high-tech take on haute couture. It shares the theme of creating chimeric looks through unexpected material combinations, symbolizing the fusion of modern technology with couture. An exemple of the collection's boundary-breaking style, reinterpreting iconography in a surprising manner.

Images Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Look 2: New Level Unlocked

Adopts one of Elsa Schiaparelli's signature codes: the keyhole. It emerges from a dress with details resembling both petals and scales, some adorned with tone-on-tone micropaillettes. The dress brings to life a 2.0 creature, showcasing the fusion of organic and futuristic elements. This design exemplifies Schiaparelli's knack for blending the familiar with the avant-garde, creating a visually stunning and unconventional garment.

Images Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Look 3: Buckle Up

Embraces the aesthetic codes of Texas, the birthplace of Daniel Roseberry. The crocodile-effect and black velvet jacket boast oversized accents, enhanced by the contrasting white satin collar, embroidered with micro-tubes, rhinestones, and silk threads. The cowboy-inspired buckles feature the Maison’s codes. The wide denim pants and high-waisted corset belt are worn with the ultimate fashion detail: leather cowboy boots. Howdy. Worn with the resin and rhinestone earring inspired by an electronic circuit. This ensemble not only pays homage to Roseberry's Texan roots but also shows Schiaparelli's flair for merging Western influences with high fashion, creating a statement piece that seamlessly blends boldness and sophistication.

Images Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Beyond Fashion

The fascination with creating a dreamlike image through confusing combinations and challenging shapes, both visually and in terms of craftsmanship, is the common thread throughout this collection. Breathtakingly surreal, if you ask me. The unexpected combinations of looks, such as technological details paired with traditional couture, symbolic objects referencing Elsa Schiaparelli's heritage, like the keyhole – a deeply rooted element in the fashion house's history – and Western influences translated into true space cowboy looks, showcase the integration of surrealist aspects.

The parallel and collection inspire me as an interior designer to focus on unexpected combinations and artistic elements throughout the entire field of design, art and architecture - in the broadest sense - to create a space that explores the boundaries of imagination. Schiaparelli shows the genius of exploring this, pushing me to think more expansively. Like the surrealists, I hope to break boundaries someday, like Schiaparelli did yesterday. This collection shows that, in a world where much has been done in terms of design, the possibility of being unexpected and innovative is always possible. Hats off, Daniel. A true creation cowboy-style.


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