Few themes sound as Schiaparellian as the circus, with its infinite dramatic and visual possibilities. It came as no surprise then, on Monday morning, when Bertrand Guyon, in his third couture effort for the Parisian maison, announced Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1938 Circus collection was the inspiration behind this one. Cue sequinned circus animals, constructivist influences and winks to Picasso. Only, we wished these references hadn’t been so tame.
The show started well, with a pared-down tailored look in black crêpe featuring a Cocteau-like drawing in gold as its only ornament. It was followed by more chic, understated pieces, their only out-there feature being structured shoulder pads ‘borrowed from a constructivist aesthetic’ according to the show notes. Unfortunately, they added an unneeded heaviness to the silhouette, especially in the straight, long dresses. Skimpy bloomers were also unnecessary, but flared skirts looked fresher, as did bias-cut long gowns, always well cut in the hands of Guyon. Two asymmetrical ones, in copper and grey-blue, were particularly lovely, and connected in a subtle way with the Schiaparelli heritage. As did the circus-themed sequin motifs embroidered in black velvet dresses, even if they could have stood a tad more extravaganza. All in all, though, the collection was a good exercise in balance, and a necessary step in Guyon’s quest for comfort within a house with a complex heritage. It will no doubt be interesting to see where the French designer will next take the house founded by Elsa Schiaparelli.