Christian Lacroix to design a couture collection for Schiaparelli: What can we expect?

Christian Lacroix to design for Schiaparelli
Christian Lacroix to design for Schiaparelli
Left: An original Schiaparelli sketch. Right: Christian Lacroix Couture Fall 2008.

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The year of Schiaparelli speculation has finally culminated with today’s announcement that Christian Lacroix will show a one-off couture collection for the brand this July. “Elsa is a sacred sphinx who will never cease to make us question things, all the while offering new puzzles by way of answers. My wish is to reinstate her at the centre of her fashion house and on the stage through which she seduced the world,” he told French news magazine L’Express today. For all those who were a little more than miffed over his own line’s demise in 2009, this might just be that match in designer heaven we can all agree on.

Known for his penchant for pure extravagance, Lacroix was long lauded as a titan of Paris Couture since his debut collection in 1987, though he was never quite able to capture ready-to-wear sustainability despite his many diffusion lines, prominence in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and long-time cultural association with Absolutely Fabulous.

Second only to Coco Chanel at the time, Elsa Schiaparelli was a dominant fashion force in the ‘30s and ‘40s, capturing the time’s Surrealist influence with collaborations with Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau as well as scandalous supporters like Wallis Simpson and Mae West. She was unable to adapt to post-war stringency, and shuttered her line in 1954.

Though lost in the history books for much of the last half century, Schiaparelli fever has been building with two exhibits of the designer’s work being shown in the last ten years—most recently the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations last summer.

There’s a theme here.

While both designers held a less than stellar record of longtime profitability, their shared imaginations count, at least in some part, for a piece of fashion’s dreamy pie—Lacroix for his vibrant colour and fabric combinations and the Schiap for her other-worldy art focus. Label rights were purchased in 2006 by Tod’s president Diego della Valle who had quietly be planning a revamp since. Today’s news makes it official. So, what can we expect from Lacroix? Opulence opulence opulence. Out of touch opulence too. But what else would you hope for with such a fantastical marriage?