Yes, that’s Kylie Jenner wearing a massive fake lion head, and yes, Schiaparelli designed it for the Spring 2023 runway show (photos from which are in the gallery above, after Kylie). And those two facts made Kylie and Daniel Roseberry, the designer, social media’s main characters for a little while yesterday. The cycle went as you might predict: Some called it art! Some accused Kylie and the models of glorifying hunters and poachers who pose with their grisly “trophies”! Irina Shayk was just happy to be there! PETA, surprisingly, came out in defense of how “fabulously innovative” and well-made they are, because they do not use any of the actual animal! Then PETA suggested the heads might be an argument against trophy hunting! Commenters scratched their heads! By the end of the day I lost track of the discourse.

Roseberry said that this is all a rumination on his own creative torment, and that the collection uses the leopard, lion, and she-wolf from Dante’s Inferno to represent “lust, pride and avarice” 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.” So basically… he had designer’s block, and turned it into macabre Mufasa cosplay? Schiaparelli has become a red-carpet darling because its over-the-top, sculptural couture mixes the splendid with the discomfiting — for example, those black shoes with the semi-realistic gold toes — so it’s not a surprise that his team took this vision and turned it into precise, excellent replicas without a speck of real animal involved. That, itself, takes artistry. Then again, a few years ago, Tina Lawson’s Wearable Art Gala was Lion King-themed, and Beyonce showed up in a robust custom Georges Hobeika that made a lion face from sequins and feathers. While I believe those feathers were real, she did not otherwise look like someone stapled an actual Jungle King to her chest, and it was every inch the art that this is. Surely Schiaparelli only went this literal to get people talking. Which… weren’t we already?

And then I counted, and realized the sum total of looks we’re talking about here is… three. Three fake animal heads, out of 32 total pieces. That’s under 10 percent of the show (yes I got this wrong at first — I promise my kids’ math homework is correct though), and yet 100 percent of the conversation. Per Harper’s Bazaar, Roseberry ended his show notes thusly: “I remember that no ascension to heaven is possible without first a trip to the fires, and the fear that comes with it. Let me embrace it always.” And boy is he. You don’t write that sentence, and send that one dress out of 32 to Kylie freaking Jenner, without the desire and foresight that it would dominate the day — or at the very least, overshadow anything else you sent down the runway. And if you’re Kylie, you don’t wear this dress unless you want the same. So everyone got what they came for here, and no one hurt any animals, nor asked anyone else to, either. Roseberry did nothing malicious. He transgressed less than all the bearskin rugs of the 1980s, on which Krystle and Blake Carrington made frequent, blurry love by a fireplace, or any of Alexis’s mink coats and turbans; his crime, if any, is probably just fancying himself too much, viewing himself as a disruptor and then telling us we’re only upset because we’re being challenged. (Mmmkay.)

But, the problem is, context fades. We forget the details, the pretty prose that sat on the printouts atop each chair, and what survives is just an icky photo of Kylie Jenner looking like she slayed Aslan and then waltzed into a party wearing his face. It’s the picture in isolation that will go on, much like Celine Dion’s heart before it. By Roseberry’s own design (on multiple levels) this will now always be The Schiaparelli Animal Head Show — much like the time Gucci models carried busts of themselves down the catwalk, except that was everyone and this was just three outfits — and unfortunately for him, and I suppose for Kylie, it therefore does matter that when you strip the context away, Kylie just looks like a taxidermy fetishist at best and a poaching aficionado at worst. It just… it really does look like an asshole sport hunter’s dream. You know Don Jr. is sitting at home right now wishing he and Eric had thought of it first. And, like it or not, people will probably walk away with that more than they do any of his grandiose interpretations of heaven, hell, suffering, and creative fruition.

So I guess the questions I land on are these: Was this vision worth any of these thousand words? For him, for anyone? Who among his coveted celebrity clientele will go on this journey with him, other than exactly the person he enlisted to do it? And most importantly… if he’s that tortured, does he just really, really need to unplug and take about a month of naps?

[Photos: David Fisher/Shutterstock, JM Haedrich/SIPA/Shutterstock, Spotlight]