At its best, haute couture is intrinsically surreal. It’s the magic that happens when you can barely believe that the things you’re seeing are the work of human hands. This season, Daniel Roseberry took that realization to heart, liberating himself from the big-S Surrealist Schiaparelli-esque tricks he’s been performing thus far in bringing so much attention to reestablishing the identity and visibility of the brand.

“I wanted this season to feel much more free, spontaneous, painterly,” he said before the show. “The idea of the last collection was really to suck the air out of the room. It’s what happened. I think the idea was to really try to keep the focus on the collection and go deeper and deeper into the techniques we wanted to show.”

So this was the moment when Roseberry went into territory of his own, carving and draping sculptural, asymmetrical silhouettes out of black and white materials while experimenting with craftspeople to blur the boundaries between clothing, embroidery, jewelry and collages of textiles.

It would be remiss not to mention “what happened”—the faux taxidermy lion head which instantaneously broke the internet in January, causing a farrago of controversy which inadvertently obliterated the rest of what Roseberry was trying to get across as a couturier. “It was a lot more than we had bargained for,” he admitted, while sounding if he’s still processing the pros and cons of stoking a worldwide reaction. “I became so fatigued by all of that stuff. But it was an important moment for the house, too. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.”

But this season he was on a different tack, taking his conceptual cue sparked by the house of Schiaparelli’s long involvement with artists. It ranged into some exceptional freewheeling artisanal effects. Looking at Lucian Freud’s chaotic paint-dashed studio resulted in a multicolored ‘nude’ dress, made up of an irregular mosaic of paillettes sewn onto chiffon. Thinking about Schiaparelli’s classic gold embroidery led Roseberry to discover that a vibrant Yves Klein blue lies at the opposite end of the color spectrum. Hence the vivid blue that turned up, scrolled into a skating skirt, and continuing into spray-painted body-paint and landing elsewhere in coils of painted wooden jewelry.

Roseberry made a smart move in detaching himself from the routine of reiterating too many of the trompe l’oeil body-part house codes he’s been working with since he came to Schiaparelli. Given all the commercial success he’s brought to the house with the jewelry and accessories, Roseberry has earned the luxury of branching out. Haute couture, after all, should be a site for experimentation and pushing at the limits of the possible.