After much mooting and name shuffling re who would head up the hotly anticipated Schiaparelli re-launch, Marco Zanini appears the man who will fronting the house. I say, ‘appears’ as, as yet, the announcement is unconfirmed and stranger things have happened in fashion. Ruminating on this, at first odd choice, it all suddenly made sense.
Schiaparelli, bought by Tod’s Group Chairman & CEO, Diego Della Valle as far back as 2006 has been on the low down regarding who should head the house and when to launch, first staking out grander than thou befitting premises at 21 Place de Vendome, Paris, the atelier of the late Schiaparelli herself. Della Valle thus making a firm statement that this house will be grounded first and foremost.
Mucho excitement was palpable last year when disgraced genius John Galliano was the talking point for the new role as Schiaparelli’s lead designer. A more fitting pairing could not have been imagined and, I suspect, would have happened if Galliano’s recent history was somewhat different. Perhaps his re-employment at Schiaparelli would have been a fashion step too far and too brave, despite the obvious brand fit? After all, in fashion’s current climate, playing to the galleries and commerce comes first. And, of course, dramatic overtones in RTW and couture seems to have had its day. In every sense, it’s the New Minimalists like Celine (Phoebe Philo), Chloe (Clare Waight-Keller), Balenciaga (Alexander Wang) and London home-girl Simone Rocha that we see on the rise as grand shows and showiness wane both in concept and execution.
Zanini is no doubt sleek as well as commercial. His year on year sales at Rochas have shown a 46% increase while his collections imbue the elegance and low key refinement of Rochas (slick voluminous opera coats and fluid lines agogo) while throwing together elements of casual in a 2013 newer than ‘New Look’ than Raf has mustered at Dior. Zanini has simplified Rochas’ aesthetic while capitalising on fashion’s current obsession for deft minimalism and texture.
And, of course, Zanini’s firm footing in ultra feminine sensuality (at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Halston) could see him unleash a potential at Schiaparelli that’s currently under wraps at Rochas but played out in a new minimalist manner.
Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy was in the out-there artistic execution, bias lines and contra-thought. This was the visionary who collaborated with Jean Cocteau and had Dali arrange window concepts for her stores. Does Marco Zanini have the weight and kudos to bring to the fore a 21st Century rendition of the label? Or will the truly artistic slant be lost to a new form Schiaparelli? Della Valle as already stated, “This brand doesn’t have to get involved in the frenetic world of numbers, accounts and dimensions, but it just has to express itself at it’s best.” This, if anything, gives us hope that creative prowess will win out. Zanini may prove himself to be the new vanguard for demi-couture for a new age. Schiaparelli reconstructed. We could well be on the brink of something big.
Catwalk images of Rochas A/W’13 show courtesy of www.style.com