By guest author Barry Samaha, Contributor to Forbes
Schiaparelli is bringing a piece of its atelier at 21 Place Vendôme to Fifth Avenue and 58th Street. The fabled French haute couture label, founded by Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1927, is partnering with luxury retailer Begrdorf Goodman on series of initiatives—perhaps to increase its visibility in the U.S. market.
Though held in high regard amongst fashion folk, the maison has been slow to gain traction since it reopened its doors in 2013. Schiaparelli shuttered in 1954, during a period when purchasing one-of-kind, meticulously crafted garments that came with a hefty price tag was prolific. It is now helmed by design director Bertrand Guyon, who has received praise for keeping to the brand’s DNA—one that had its founder collaborating with the leading Surrealist artists (like Salvador Dali and Man Ray). Think: lobster dresses, shoe hats, newspaper print blouses and shocking pink gowns. Indeed, Elsa’s lore has brought the label considerable attention in the industry. That is its greatest strength. But, this doesn’t mean consumers en masse were ardently waiting for Schiaparelli to rise from the ashes. Fashion has evolved, and with luxury sales dwindling yearly, haute is seemingly no longer hot.
That said, Schiaparelli—and its president, Delphine Bellini—is making an effort to woo women who still value couture, or at least the artistic qualities that forward-thinking luxury brands provide. (Alas, they are few and far between, but they do still exist). By partnering with Bergdorf Goodman, a store that still promotes great design, the maison is looking to spark further interest in the U.S. and introduce itself to a new crop of potential clients.
Schiaparelli will have a pop-up boutique on the retailer’s fourth floor, which will carry Story #1, a prêt-à-couture line that is dedicated to Elsa’s creative relationship with Man Ray. It will also take over Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, the cover of its annual holiday magazine and online lookbook. This will be the first is a series of stories that will roll out throughout the year.
Why did Schiaparelli decide to partner with a retailer?
We like the idea of linking the past with the present. Schiaparelli used to be sold in the most prestigious department stores in America, among them was Bergdorf Goodman, which was and still is the symbol of avant-garde elegance. We wanted Schiaparelli to travel to New York, to have 21 Place Vendôme come to Fifth Avenue, to have our iconic maison housed in a legendary store, whilst keeping the essence of Schiaparelli—mixing art, fashion and emotion. We felt it would be entertaining to bring our salons at Place Vendôme right back to the venue where clients used to find Elsa Schiaparelli’s last Parisian creations.
Why do you think Bergdorf Goodman is the ideal partner?
An ideal partner is one who believes in what you are doing; someone who shares the same values and convictions as you; someone who cares about and loves serving their clients; someone who wants to enchant and create magic for them. It is someone who has respect for a brand’s identity and heritage, and someone with whom you can build a close collaboration, learning from each other, inspiring each other. It is someone who dares to change their own rules to follow yours, embracing with you a new challenge, a human adventure. Bergdorf Goodman has been following the revival of Schiaparelli since its debut and clearly demonstrates what an ideal partner would be.
Can the collection really be called couture if does not come from the atelier?
The collection is called prêt-à-couture. Couture or haute couture is something different, as it is made to measure with a particular craftsmanship and with each creation being a unique artwork. Our haute couture pieces are, indeed, created and made in our atelier at Place Vendôme. The prêt-à-couture collection is studied and designed in our studio, also located Place Vendôme.
What does prêt-à-couture mean?
It is made in Italy and is available in different sizes. Prêt-à-couture means exclusivity and utterly elaborate garments in limited edition, made in the highest quality fabrics and finishing that uses certain embellishments and construction techniques taken from haute couture. There is also a strong notion of freedom of creativity in the prêt-à-couture.
How would you describe the collection?
The collection mixes art and fashion in a concise wardrobe, covering different moments of an active woman’s life. From casual chic T-shirts to sophisticated cocktail dresses, the collection offers a sense of effortless elegance.