Daniel Roseberry is Jeremy O. Harris they are united by a kind of creative affinity. Born two years later and raised in the South of the United States, for over a decade they worked without anyone noticing them, learning their respective trades and honing their means of expression. Then, coinciding with the beginning of their friendship, they conquered the limelight, giving the public the impression of being two phenomena that came out of nowhere: one, Roseberry, as artistic director of the maison Schiaparelli, the other, Harris, as the author of the play Slave Play.
From the Parisian haute couture runways to the New York stages – two traditional art venues that have a lot in common – they thrilled viewers with perspectives of disconcerting originality. For Schiaparelli, where he joined in April 2019, Roseberry is creating collections of disrespectful and pressing beauty. The real consecration, however, came last January with the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the United States, Joe Biden, when Lady Gaga he sang The Star-Spangled Banner in a Schiaparelli dress designed by Roseberry which included a dove-shaped gold pin to symbolize the peace the nation desperately needs.
Playwright, screenwriter and also actor, Jeremy O. Harris before “Slave Play” had staged “Daddy” with Hari Nef and Alan Cumming.
© MICAIAH CARTER.
Slave Play, Harris’ first professionally produced opera, premiered on Broadway in October 2019. Critically acclaimed – his twelve Tony Award nominations constitute an all-time record for a non-musical work – has an ingeniously structured history and structure provocative that broaden the horizons of the ongoing debate in the United States on the issues of race, gender and sexuality. Harris and Roseberry first met in 2018 at a dinner during Paris Fashion Week, becoming good friends a year later. They were clearly thrilled to get together for a conversation via Zoom with Vogue Italia and talk about the pleasures, passions and dangers that are part of their parallel creative careers. The conversation went on for an hour and could have continued for more. Here we therefore propose a summary of its essential contents – here you will find the full version.
Jeremy O. Harris (slightly late): Excuse me so much. I’m in the middle of a crazy writing season. Every now and then there happens one of those days when I don’t hear the alarm clock.
Vogue Italia: Welcome. So you are a night writer?
JOH: That’s right. The best ideas come to me around five in the morning.
Daniel Roseberry: Do you remember that time in Paris, at the Costes hotel, when we stayed up talking until half past three in the morning? It was then that I realized how similar our respective experiences were. For the first time I was able to elaborate my experience with a person similar to me. It was a revealing conversation.
YOU: Is confronting and provoking the public one of the strategies you both use to communicate your message?
DR: Personally, I think I’m someone who needs to feel empowered to provoke. At Schiap, the interesting thing is that having the great heritage of the maison behind me makes me feel free to dare, but it is almost a responsibility. What do you think, Jeremy?
JOH: I remember hearing Daniel mention a show that made him realize how Chanel was the greatest pattern maker and designer of her time and how unsettling it must have been for her to see Schiaparelli’s somewhat rough and sometimes brutal style take by storm. France, with no respect for what was considered the right way forward in the field of fashion. Here, I think that my being provocative derives precisely from the fact that I do not worry about following the “right path”. So I’m a bit Schiaparelli too! I find this story extremely intriguing because I believe my interest in the world of theater was shaped by my disinterest in the correct way of doing things. Which, in my opinion, is not so much a provocation as an acknowledgment that my very existence in that world was already becoming a provocation. So why follow rules that don’t seem to be made in my image? This is why I believe I have an Elsa Schiaparelli-style approach to provocation, that is: “I’m just trying to adapt the dress to my measurements”.
DR: It is likely that I too feel the same feelings, although, I think, in a different way, being a Texan boy from Plano who landed in Parisian couture. That’s what I felt, as a gay, even when I went to church. Just like the rules don’t apply to me. So it was easier to break them.
JOH: About Slave Play and your couture line … Looking at all those garments, I wrote to you: “Do you think that would suit me?”. What excited me was the way he twisted a certain idea of how couture should look and be perceived. It’s something that never fails to make me euphoric when I write. How to make the audience feel something, regardless of whether they are watching a science fiction movie or watching a play where couples discuss how to behave better with their partner? Which is just what it’s about Slave Play, quite right? Eight people committed to trying to improve their respective couple dynamics. I didn’t want the audience to go home feeling like they saw something that didn’t intimately involve them. I didn’t care if her reaction was anger, frustration, excitement or titillation. I wanted him to hear something, because it so often happens that you attend a fashion show or a play without feeling anything. I don’t want to invest my time in giving people something that is simply usable. I want to give them something that, when they try to enjoy it, makes their inner strings vibrate.
(Keep it going)
English text at this link.
Opening: born in Texas in 1986, Daniel Roseberry has been artistic director of the Schiaparelli fashion house since April 2019. He previously worked alongside Thom Browne for 11 years.