Purple Magazine
— The 30YRS Issue #38 F/W 2022

daniel roseberry the american designer reinventing schiaparelli surrealism





interview by olivier zahm

photography by ola rindal

OLIVIER ZAHM — Daniel, what does it mean to offer today to the world surrealist and eccentric fashion, in a time when streetwear and sportswear dominate the aesthetic ?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — I grew up in Plano, Texas, and I’ve always been inspired and driven by the fact that the world around me did not look like the world that I have in my head. This disparity between my imagination and my fantasy life versus reality and the not-so-beautiful parts of my everyday surroundings — my work is trying to reconcile those two things. As the world is going to shit, people have an appetite for a parallel reality.


OLIVIER ZAHM — People are craving to be transported somewhere else?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — Exactly. If I had made these collections eight years ago, I don’t know if the world would be responding to them in the way it has.


OLIVIER ZAHM — So, extravagant and surreal fashion are a kind of escape.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — Escape is good. Denial, I think, is one step further. You plug your ears, and you shut your eyes, and you want to live… It’s in a meta world of fantasy and innocence.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Fantasy also gives you a lot of freedom.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — There’s so much freedom at Schiaparelli, particularly to explore fantasy and Surrealism. When I started at Schiaparelli, no one was writing about Surrealism and fashion. Now, there are often articles about Surrealism and jewelry and fashion on the runway. And Elsa Schiaparelli was the master of this aesthetic.


OLIVIER ZAHM — What does Surrealism mean to you?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — I think it was Georges Braque who said that in the space between reality and dreaming is the Surrealist.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Is it about discovering the intersection between dream and reality?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — It’s when you’re about to fall asleep, and your brain starts put- ting together ideas. It’s a free association that’s unconscious, intuitive, and childlike. That’s how I think about Surrealism: it’s non-verbal communication on the subconscious level. And when I see the way people have visceral responses to the intensely surreal and the physical elements of the collection — I know that there’s a subconscious attraction to that visual language.


OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s so personal because it connects with an unconscious part of yourself.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — Completely. The strongest work comes from the most personal parts of me and from the things that inspire me, my memories and putting them in the context of couture… That’s the winning combination. And that’s what Elsa Schiaparelli did, too, as an Italian from a completely different world… Her strongest work was profoundly personal.


OLIVIER ZAHM — You come from a religious family, so is there a world behind the world?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — I think so. For people who are raised in the Church, the moment you move away, you learn to hide parts of yourself because they’re not really accepted in New York, for example. Going to fashion school, I was not advertising a lot about my life. And it was the same growing up: I hid my sexuality from my family until I was 23. It can be both painful and incredibly inspiring to have those secrets that you keep to yourself.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Are secrets inspiring for a designer?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — I think the power of having secrets is remarkable.


OLIVIER ZAHM — I wanted to ask you about the dark side of Elsa Schiaparelli. She was married to a psychic, liked obscure references, and studied the Kabbalah. Do you also embrace that darker side?

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — Growing up in the Church, you are programmed to think that you are a broken, sinful person without any ability to improve yourself or your life outside of God’s help. So, coming to terms with your own darkness is something I’ve been taught from a young age. It’s never been a problem for me. The difference is that Christianity wants to wash the darkness away all the time.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Your work blurs the lines between fashion and jewelry. In a way, it echoes what’s coming from the digital world, where virtual clothes are just decorative and ornamental.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — In every collection, we have a category that we call “Body Bijoux.” When I started here, I did not want to do crazy embroidery — it’s something that big couture houses with bigger budgets and teams can do. They can do embroidery for thousands of hours. But I wanted to fuse jewelry with clothing.


OLIVIER ZAHM — And you did this in an audacious way.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — The answer was to create huge jewelry that could become more important, more powerful than the dress itself. We also started to reverse the creative process, designing the look around the jewelry, not the jewelry to accessorize the look.


OLIVIER ZAHM — It gives your collection a physicality, with the presence of the body, an external armor. An exoskeleton. And it comes back to Schiaparelli herself and her obsession with the lobster. Maybe that’s what we need in fashion today: an external skeleton, as we are becoming more and more fragile.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — A lot of people have talked to me about armor. For me, it’s the opposite, and more about exposure than hiding. It’s more about vulnerability. The human tendency is to protect, but I actually think there’s strength in being vulnerable. And the fact that the body pieces are your naked body exposed and glorified to the level of jewelry is, to me, more interesting than the idea of armor.


OLIVIER ZAHM — It could be a symbolic armor.

DANIEL ROSEBERRY — A psychological armor.


OLIVIER ZAHM — Yes, that empowers the woman.



[Table of contents]

The 30YRS Issue #38 F/W 2022

Table of contents

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