Christian Lacroix creates homage to Elsa Schiaparelli

The “Homage to Elsa,” meaning the great Schiaparelli, opened Monday at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris. By invitation of La Maison Schiaparelli, the artist and contemporary designer Christian Lacroix created 18 pieces to evoke the memory of the influential Italian fashion designer of the first half of the 20th century.

In these same grand salons, Lacroix showed his last haute couture collection in 2009. Known for his extravagant, exuberant creations, Lacroix stopped designing his own line of fashions, but not before having fashioned a few over-the-top costumes for Madonna’s world tours and the gown Helen Mirren wore the night she took home the lead actress Oscar for “The Queen.”

Rather than an old-fashioned overhang of leaves at the entry to precede the view of the city’s famous Tuileries gardens, modern IPads hung from above. On the screens: virtual birds, chirping away.

As guests sipped champagne and sampled canapés, mannequins rotated on a mirrored carousel, each one exhibiting a design fusion of Lacroix and Schiaparelli, both masters of color and draping. The resulting collection featured voluminous gowns, eye-popping color combinations, generous touches of fur and one of Schiaparelli’s signatures: a lobster, which sat on a hat.

The clothes aren't intended to be for sale, but presage a reopening of the House of Schiaparelli, which, once a creative director is hired, is expected to offer both ready-to-wear and haute couture collections.

Lacroix said it wasn’t his intention to recreate Schiaparelli’s designs, but to celebrate the spirit of her work. No longer designing his own haute couture collection, Lacroix now creates costumes for the theater. On his current agenda: 200 costumes for a production of Lohengrin in Austria.


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