We are drawn to them like moths who want to flex in front of the flame: Step-and-repeats, the backdrop for our memories. We pose in front of fake roses at bougie brunch spots on Fairfax, rap squat in front of cheap, gleaming vinyl ones on nights out in North Hollywood and tequila-sponsored activations off La Cienega, wait for hours to be captured in front of dreamy baby blue fabric with the words “Born X Raised” across the top at Sadie Hawkins every year.
The step-and-repeat was invented for the sole purpose of being seen — it pushes you toward the gaze. There is something honest about it: The step-and-repeat says, “Perceive me, I beg you.”
Schiaparelli speaks this same language: of spectacle. Since the house’s creation in the `20s, Elsa Schiaparelli was making clothes for the luxury fashion set’s weird art kids — she ran with, and was inspired by, the Dadaists and the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí famously designed a lobster that was printed on one of her most iconic dresses. Since creative director Daniel Roseberry took the helm in 2019, the house has built itself on this idea of performance, of celebrity, how clothes can create — just like a step-and-repeat — a sublime moment of being seen by the masses and having it captured for years to come in our collective memory. (Four words: Kylie Jenner lion dress.)
Schiaparelli has created its share of viral moments. The Doja Cats encrusted with red crystals, the Lady Gagas at the inauguration. But Roseberry insists he also wants to “make clothes for private people who find themselves in performative elements of life.” (Meaning, the L.A. people who might find themselves invited to the kind of event where a step-and-repeat awaits.) Earlier this year, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills opened an exclusive Schiaparelli boutique modeled after the house’s Place Vendôme atelier. Roseberry’s ready-to-wear spring 2024 collection featured a black blazer adorned with Schiaparelli gold chains, fake cigarettes and spilled red nail polish. There were white Converse-style sneakers with molded gold toes on their caps. A ruched white skirt cinched in with that lobster at the crotch.
A Schiaparelli piece is about translating fantasy into tangible reality. It’s for when you need something whose details are so out there, so extra, that they will undoubtedly translate on camera. We talked to Roseberry about why Schiaparelli is a kind of kindred spirit for L.A., why a piece from the house is just pleading to be in front of a step-and-repeat.
Julissa James: How are you feeling?
Daniel Roseberry: Good. Jet-lagged but good. Always, always happy to be on the West Coast.
JJ: How often do you come here?
DR: I come here a few times a year. Always to L.A. I have a great group of friends here. And my boyfriend lives here. So I have a real reason to be present in L.A., even outside of work.
JJ: There’s this sense, I think, of people in L.A. kind of being obsessed with this idea of exaggeration. I think we’re a city of people just competing with each other all the time to be seen. When I think of what you’ve done with Schiaparelli, it really resonates with that idea.
DR: My first year at Schiaparelli, I came [to L.A.] with a few toiles and we took a bungalow at the Chateau [Marmont]. We lined the bungalow with my sketches and took back-to-back meetings with all the stylists here. That was a pre-COVID initiation into the subculture here: of being seen at the highest level. Part of what I wanted to do at Schiaparelli was to make clothes for private people who find themselves in performative elements of life. At the beginning, the priority was really about the red carpet. We don’t advertise, we never pay people to wear the clothes. So the red carpet, as well as the collections, became the main method of communication for us. And then, over the course of four years, the ready-to-wear has become another way of communicating with people.
JJ: This idea of celebrity and spectacle also feels very, very much connected to what you’ve done. And that also feels very, very much connected to L.A. You’ve had so many big moments in the last few years, especially this year. Are there certain moments that stand out in your mind? Doja Cat was one of my favorites.
DR: Which one, Doja red? We did a different Doja moment too, which was gorgeous.
JJ: Doja red. I see that image when I close my eyes sometimes.
DR: That’s what it’s there to do. I’m more attached in a way to a lot of the COVID-era moments that we have had because they almost took on a sort of historical tone. Lady Gaga [at the inauguration]: I remember when she walked through the doors, a lot of people said that was the first moment of glam that they saw for a long time. Beyoncé — it was a historic Grammy moment when we did the black leather mini dress. Bella Hadid was the first red carpet coming back. Those COVID-era moments were so special because we were starved for beauty. After COVID, it’s more and more challenging to find ways to break through. And Doja red, devil Doja — it’s so funny because of Doja’s “Paint the Town Red” lyrics. There’s synergy.
JJ: I’m so curious how much gaze factors into your creative process. When you are actually sitting down to sketch or design, how much are you thinking about, “OK, this is going to look like this from this angle …”
DR: It’s a huge thing. I like working backwards. I love thinking about the review of a collection before we start working on it — I’m very goal-oriented like that. It’s a lot about thinking: “What would I want to see this person look like? I love their body of work.” It’s a lot of playing with eras or playing with moments or their own iconography. And then it’s: “How can we give the people something that they want?” That’s how I feel with the collections too. It’s a lot about just putting yourself in the shoes of the voyeur, the gaze, and trying to anticipate and serve that.
JJ: Are there certain pieces in your latest collection that feel specifically attuned to L.A.? When I see the red mini dress with the golden nipples, that feels very L.A.
DR: Hyper-glammed sportiness really feels like something that feels authentic here. I always think of those guys who would wear a suit with Converse, like Mark Ronson — the [gold] toe sneakers that we did kind of remind me of that. I would love to do a collection of just gowns. If we did a show here, and it was just gowns …
JJ: Like, we have places to wear them. Not me. But the people, the collective.
DR: I’m from Dallas. And Dallas is very, I would say, inspired by L.A. in that way. There’s a glam fantasy quality to going out.
JJ: Let’s talk about the opening of the boutique with Neiman Marcus. It’s the house’s first time being in L.A. in an official capacity.
DR: I think a lot of people have been waiting to be able to participate in the world that we’ve been building. For the first chapter, it was really about building the authority of the house, the voice, the language, the codes. And now the next chapter is about opening that up and making it real. If you’re West Coast or East Coast, there’s so few places to buy it. Which makes it that much more precious. And that’s really what we’ve wanted to do: Be the antithesis, the alternative to the ubiquity of the big multibillion-dollar brands that you can find everywhere. We are offering a different business model, a different trajectory of growth and a different kind of product as well.
All Schiaparelli pieces exclusively available at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills.
Producer: Rafaela Remy Sanchez
Step-and-repeat artwork by Julissa Aaron
Models: Kim Cuevas; Elisa Loehr; Hayley Ashton; Hailey Reynolds; Miguel Reyna
Makeup: Jaime Diaz
Hair: Adrian Arredondo
Photo Assistant: Kabir Affons
Styling Assistant: Gizelle Burciaga
This story originally appeared on LATimes