On Monday (24 January), Schiaparelli showcased its surrealist spring-summer 2023 couture collection at Le Petit Palais in Paris. The collection was an exploration of Dante’s “Inferno”, featuring depictions of the poem’s three beasts; a lion, a leopard and a wolf.
Kylie Jenner, who was an attendee in the front row, wore a black velvet dress from the collection featuring a faux life-size lion’s head. Meanwhile, on the catwalk, Irina Shayk modelled a similar lion’s head while Naomi Campbell modelled a black faux fur coat with a wolf’s head fixed to the left shoulder.
Canadian model Shalom Harlow wore a strapless snow leopard dress with a fake leopard’s head emerging from the bust.
According to the fashion house, the animal heads were made by hand using sculpted foam, wool and silk faux fur. In an Instagram post, Schiaparelli assured its followers on Instagram that “NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN MAKING THIS LOOK.”
Despite this, the show attracted backlash from figures including Johnson, a noted animal rights campaigner and wife of former prime minister Boris Johnson.
Sharing an image from the show, Johnson posted to her Instagram Stories: “Grim! Real or fake this just promotes trophy hunting. Yuck.”
The show was also condemned as “disturbing” by photographer Misan Harriman, who has previously photographed portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The Independent has contacted a representative for Schiaparelli for comment.
Despite the backlash from other groups, animal rights organisation Peta has spoken out in favour of the collection.
“These fabulously innovative three-dimensional animal heads show that where there’s a will, there’s a way – and Kylie, Naomi [Campbell] and Irina [Shayk]’s looks celebrate the beauty of wild animals and may be a statement against trophy hunting, in which lions and wolves are torn apart to satisfy human egotism,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of Peta, told Metro.co.uk in a statement.
On Tuesday’s instalment of Good Morning Britain (24 January), Ed Balls said criticism of the designs was “political correctness gone mad”.
He then asked if Johnson would be offended by The Lion King, a West End theatre production that uses life-sized lion costumes, or by vegetarian burgers.
Schiaparelli described the busts as “faux-taxidermy” and told CNN they were made by hand using foam resin and other man-made materials.
They are meant to serve as a “reminder there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt,” according to Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry.
Jenner posted a picture on Instagram, wearing the lion’s head, writing: “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Thank you @danielroseberry and @schiaparelli for such a special morning. Wow I loved wearing this faux art creation constructed by hand using manmade materials. Beautiful beautiful.”