“NO ANIMALS WAS HARD in the creation of this look,” Schiaparelli wrote on an Instagram post showing off deaf wolf, snow leopard and lion head faux taxidermy gowns that were unveiled at the fashion house’s spring/summer 2023 haute couture show in Paris this week.
The fact that this had to be clarified should be a big red flag for the label – or at least shows that the development team is on the mend.
We’ve been trying to eradicate this despicable practice for a long time – who could forget the horrific 2015 photo of recreational big game trophy hunter Walter Palmer crouching over poor Cecil the lion he gruesomely killed? Well, apparently Schiaparelli could – he sent model Irina Shayk to the runway yesterday wearing what looked like a dead lion’s head.
While PETA shockingly defended the dresses as “fabulously innovative” – saying the collection celebrates “the beauty of wild animals and can be a counter to trophy hunts where lions and wolves are torn apart to satisfy human egotism” – Carrie Johnson spoke up on “gloomy” designs, arguing that “Real or fake it just promotes trophy hunting.” Photographer Misan Harriman also spoke out against carefree couture dresses, posting on his Instagram stories: “Dear fashion industry, this is NOT the way to start the year. NO NO NO NO!”
In the program notes, Daniel Roseberry explains his rationale for the designs. “Inferno animal symbolism: “leopard, lion and she-wolf – representing lust, pride and greed.” Made of hand-carved foam, resin, wool, and silk faux fur, he explained, they were created to highlight “nature’s glory.” What – wearing it like a tacky trophy?
Fashion has traditionally been an outlet for designers to take risks in avant-garde craftsmanship – not the safety of endangered animals. Yes, the craftsmanship that has gone into these incredibly realistic heads is impressive, but for what purpose? Make animal heads – fake or real – back in vogue after many years of campaigning against animal cruelty? Only last year, luxury fashion conglomerate Kering, which includes Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent, made the decision to stop using animal fur in its brands from the fall/winter 2022 collection. While fashion designer Stella McCartney has long lobbies for a global end to fur cruelty through its “It’s Our Time” campaign.
It’s more likely that Roseberry made these design choices to do exactly what it did – grab attention online. As reality TV star Kylie Jenner, who is the third most followed person on Instagram, proved to FROW in a terrifyingly realistic evening dress with a lion’s head.
Whether we like it or not, the fashion gimmick is now a major part of many brands’ social media strategies – just look at Coperni spray-painting a dress on a naked Bella Hadid at last Paris Fashion Week or Paris Hilton closing the Versace show. But this time Schiaparelli went too far.