With France’s former first lady Carla Bruni sitting front row with her good friend Farida Khelfa, a pink glow suffused the Schiaparelli show – right up to the windows which designer Jean-Paul Goude had created in memory of his famous Chanel 1990 Egoiste ad.
All the key ‘Schiap’ codes were there: sharp tailoring, funky hats, witty prints and dresses smothered in bows like so many kisses.
But on this opening day of the summer couture season, there was no named designer. And the truth is, she/he was not really missed.
This show seemed less historical and fresher than the previous remake of Elsa’s codes by Marco Zannini – although he should be credited for establishing a workable heritage out of Schiap’s flamboyant life.
The show opened with a streamlined white pantsuit, with embroidered pins as decoration and a tasselled Moroccan hat. It continued with a few day outfits and a focus on the back – especially huge, flat bows, or perhaps a stamp of hands around the spine.
The prints were from Schiap’s heritage: exploding stars, hearts stabbed with pins, a padlock embroidered on a pocket and shaded effects worked on grass-green satin. Mesh, draped around, looked like a leftover from the past.
Programme notes listed the intricacy of the details, proof that this is couture.
Missing was any new look or any glancing reference to the modern, digital world – nothing so crass as cell phones or laptop prints was needed; but perhaps a hint of current times.
For that, you would need to delve into a creative designer’s heart and mind.
But Diego Della Valle, who is behind the relaunch of the Schiap label, believes that there are enough books, drawings and other archive information from the life of the designer who pitted herself against Coco Chanel in the 1930s.
“We may bring in very young designers fresh from college, but it will be about working together,” said the executive before the show.
The system worked this season. But the challenge for any famous brand is the same: to find in a noble past a dynamic future.