Spring 2018 Haute Couture: Out of Africa at Schiaparelli




The Pagan Collection created by Elsa Schiaparelli for her Autumn 1938 collection explored a natural theme with blossom motifs, golden leaf embroideries and insects like beetles crawling on hats or incorporated in bold accessories like a Rhodoid necklace whose transparency gave the impression that insects were crawling directly on the skin. The collection had been inspired by Botticelli's lush paintings with flowers, woodland creatures, foliage, and insects decorating the clothes and accessories.


For his Spring/Summer 2018 collection for Schiaparelli, designer Bertrand Guyon looked to Africa for his own interpretation of nature, sending down the catwalk a series of embellished safari jackets belted over shorts or long loose-fitted skirts, while embroideries of bugs, butterflies and flowers could be found throughout.

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The designer explored raw materials like linen and raffia embellishing them with Swarovski mother-of-pearl beads, embroideries, and braiding them with feathers, as he made full use of the refined savoir-faire of the atelier. A woven silk and banana tree fiber bustier dress was completed with colored raffia fringe, a nude nylon bustier dress was beaded with micro-pearls evoking face painting, while shredded plastic shopping bags (!) were interwoven with silk, underlying that the maison’s avant-garde traditions of the remain alive and kicking.

Lightness and transparency aim to translate the soul of Elsa Schiaparelli’s original pagan collection with graceful butterfly wings in fil coupé jacquards, 3D prints, hand-painted motifs, embroidered guipure or tufted chenille.

Beetle played with cobweb-like lace while insects ran through delicate fabrics. An animist spirit seems to bring jackets to life in python marquetry, albeit embellished with padlocks.

Particularly successful was a monastic white cape dress embroidered with mother-of-pearl lilies and irises that created a striking wedding dress for a modest bride.


The color palette of mainly sunset earth, savannah ochre, desert rose and summer white contrasted with a few bolder hues, with the usual node to Schiaparelli’s shocking pink.