Schiaparelli kicked off the Paris Haute Couture Week for spring/summer on Monday in suitably outlandish fashion, sending models down the runway with their faces covered in gold, shielded with surreal helmets and sporting lifelike 3D models of lions, wolfs and snow leopards.
Known for its glamourous frivolity and exaggerated silhouettes, the show paid homage to the 1930s heyday of house founder Elsa Schiaparelli with surreal takes on classic designs.
A bronze bustier reimagined as a giant oyster shell rose up like a fan that obscured the model’s face. Its incredible pearl embellishments were rendered in organic, crystallised layers showing off the deftness of the house atelier.
Elsewhere, myriad embellished baubles — almost resembling wet pearls — organically dripped off a blown-up bolero jacket that cut a beautiful silhouette.
The giant animal heads — replete with fangs and bushy manes — were created as an inventive nod to Surrealism, but also a statement about the absurdity of the use of fur.
Doja Cat, who sat front row, also garnered plenty of attention, arriving covered head to toe in 30,000 red Swarovski crystals — a look that took five hours to put on.
However, designer Daniel Roseberry’s creations, inspired by Dante’s Inferno, blew up the internet, providing infinite meme fodder as well as ruffling more than a few feathers.
Kylie Jenner, who sat front row at the show wearing the black velvet gown adorned with the 3D lion’s head, was criticised online amid accusations of glamourising animal cruelty.
Four Paws UK, an animal welfare charity, tweeted: "It may be made of foam but this ‘lion head’ dress glamourises the use of animals in fashion. @KylieJenner this is one faux piece that is a faux pas. Why not make kind fashion aspirational, rather than normalise abject cruelty and dress it up as ‘luxury’?"
World Animal Protection US also criticised the designs, tweeting: "The shocking animal head designs at the Schiaparelli couture runway in Paris has ignited fierce online outcry. People are rightfully disturbed by the designs, which evoke the deeply cruel act of trophy hunting."
But animal rights charity PETA said the looks highlighted the absurdity of using real fur for fashion.
"These fabulously innovative three-dimensional animal heads show that where there’s a will, there’s a way — and Kylie’s look celebrates lions’ beauty and may be a statement against trophy hunting, in which lion families are torn apart to satisfy human egotism,” the charity’s vice president of programmes, Elisa Allen, said.
"Next up: PETA urges Kylie to extend this creativity to exclude sheep shorn bloody for wool and silkworms boiled alive in their cocoons. We encourage everyone to stick with 100 per cent cruelty-free designs that showcase human ingenuity and prevent animal suffering."
- Additional reporting by AP