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Schiaparelli gets the lion’s share of the attention at Paris Fashion Week

27 January 2023

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Look 10 of Schiaparelli’s haute couture collection for spring 2023 consisted of a strapless wool and silk dress with the head of a snow leopard worked into the bust and facing the world, fangs to the fore. While the outfit designed by Daniel Roseberry and modelled on the catwalk by Shalom Harlow was certainly striking, it was another look, as modelled by Irina Shaykh and worn by Kylie Jenner on the front row, that caused the real stir during Paris Fashion Week.

Your roving correspondent is sorry to say that they can now name another Kardashian. And, although we wouldn’t go so far as to say this is what Kylie Jenner had in mind, there’s no ignoring someone who’s sporting the head of Aslan as an accessory. While there was something of an uproar about the lifelike qualities of the lion, both the fashion house and its front-row attendee stressed on Instagram that only faux fur, foam and resin had been harmed in its making. While some feared that big-game hunters might feel emboldened, the president of PETA seemed to have no such fears, with its president Ingrid Newkirk suggesting that it might even be a statement against trophy hunting: ‘These fabulously innovative three-dimensional animal heads show that where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Maybe.

Naomi Campbell at Paris Fashion Week, January 2023. Photo: Estrop/Getty Images

In the collection notes for the show, Roseberry had a much more convoluted explanation. Influenced by ‘the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf – representing lust, pride, and avarice’ in Dante’s Inferno – Schiaparelli’s creative director was, in fact, celebrating ‘the glory of nature and guarding the woman who wears it’. Far be it for Rakewell to disagree but of the three ‘faux-taxidermy’ looks, Naomi Campbell’s with a wolf on her shoulder was by far the most successful – and she looked perfectly capable of looking after herself. If only the lupine-inclined, wolf-wearing members of House Stark in Game of Thrones had been made of similarly stern stuff…

And, although some may be alarmed by the lionisation of Kylie Jenner, Rakewell can’t help thinking of a more legendary figure. Whether depicted on a Greek vase of c. 525–500 BC, or played by Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson in the film of 2014, Hercules wearing the skin of the defeated Nemean Lion is always runway ready.  ­

Herakles driving a bull to sacrifice (detail; c. 525–520 BC), attributed to the Lysippides Painter Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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