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Elsa Schiaparelli, who was known for her amusing prints, outdid herself in July 1937 with a particularly clever “passion thermometer” motif that depicted mercury rising between the poles of ‘Indifference’ and ‘Passion.’ Fashion’s love affair with the Italian designer has never been tepid, and is once again reaching boiling point as “Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli” is set to open on July 6 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
The upside-downness of the past few years has, at times, felt Surrealistic, so this aspect of the exhibition seems to be on point, if already much discussed. More salient with regards to the state of fashion today is the designer’s renegade, and highly collaborative, approach to her work. Schiaparelli was self-taught. Her social standing and education had exposed her to style and the arts, but she had no training in the fields of fashion or business. As Vogue put it, Schiaparelli “was hampered by none of the dressmaking traditions.” And though she became a naturalized French citizen, and having been born in Rome and lived in England and the United States, she remained an outsider in Paris.
In the ’20s and ’30s Paris was a hotbed of artistic innovation, and Schiaparelli forged ties with fine and fashion artists, for whom her designs became canvases of a sort. “Shocking” features a recreation of the designer’s 21 Place Vendôme salon, which opened in 1935 and was decorated by Jean-Michel Frank. The exhibition also speaks to the designer’s “world” building. Closing out the show are homages to Schiaparelli by a number of 20th-century designers, including the maison’s current artistic director Daniel Roseberry.
Schiaparelli never failed to seek out—or be delighted by—the shock of the new. This is a timeline of her achievements.
Elsa Luisa Maria Schiaparelli is born in Rome, the second of two daughters of a Neapolitan aristocrat, Giuseppa Maria de Dominicis, and Celestino Schiaparelli, a scholar from Piedmont who was appointed head of the Lincei Library in the Palazzo Corsini by King Victor Emmanuel II. She is christened in St. Peter’s Cathedral (from which she’d later borrow decorative motifs for her designs).
Schiaparelli, who had made full use of her access to the Lincei Library, studies philosophy at the University of Rome.
Publishes a book of poetry, Arethusa, which scandalizes her family, who send her to a Swiss convent school to mend her ways.
On the way to London to work as a nanny for a family friend, visits Paris for the first time. “As soon as I had set foot on the ground, I said aloud: ‘This is the place where I am going to live,’ ” the designer writes in her memoirs. While there she is invited to a ball, another first, for which she fashions a no-sew dress for herself and has to be “danced off the floor” when it starts to unravel.
Attends a lecture on theosophy in London given by Comte William de Wendt de Kerlor. “He spoke of the power of the soul over the body, of magic and eternal youth. Schiap listened spellbound,” the designer later wrote. The following day she becomes betrothed to the lecturer; they marry in a civil ceremony. Unable to stay in England, they move to Nice before sailing to New York in 1916. Meets Gaby Buffet-Picabia, a Dada writer married to artist Francis Picabia on the voyage, who will have a huge impact on her career.
The designer wearing one of her embroidered jackets.
Birth of her daughter, Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha Schiaparelli, known as Gogo. (Gogo will become mother to model/actress Marisa Berenson and photographer/actress Berinthia (Berry), who were often featured in Vogue.) Abandoned by her husband, Schiaparelli takes odd jobs, some via Picabia, to keep afloat. “If I have become what I am, I owe it to two distinct things—poverty and Paris. Poverty forced me to work, and Paris gave me a liking for it and courage,” the designer later said, as quoted by biographer Palmer White.
Denise Poiret in a Paul Poiret design, 1919.
Moves back to Paris at the invitation of Blanche Hays, a divorcée. Rooms with Picabia. Works at odd jobs, one of which was to take an American client couture shopping. While fulfilling this assignment, Schiaparelli meets Paul Poiret, who would become a mentor of sorts and shower her with clothing. Thinking about fashion as a career, Schiaparelli hawks her sketches. Reviewing them, an employee of Maggy Rouf suggested she “would do better to plant potatoes.”
The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts takes place in Paris. This streamlined movement defines a decade, and has a major impact on Schiaparelli’s aesthetic. As White writes, “Art Deco stressed the practical and functional: the style was classical, symmetrical, and rectilinear, much of it reflecting the geometrical forms which had so impressed Elsa in New York City.” A friend of Hayes’s, one Mrs. Hartly, acquires the Maison Lambal, and hires Schiaparelli as designer; she divests the following year.
Schiaparelli’s best-selling and much-copied trompe l’œil bow sweater.
Now living on rue de rue de l’Université, Schiaparelli goes it alone. Presents “Display No.1,” a line of separates, from her apartment. In August, has her first international hit with a hand-knit trompe l’oeil bow sweater, which Vogue describes as an “artistic masterpiece,” in its December issue. “She happened to design a black-and-white sweater for herself, because, being Roman, she was addicted to black and white while other women were, at the moment, addicted to sweaters,” Janet Flanner, The New Yorker’s Paris correspondent would write in 1932. “This new note of chic melancholy, of Italian morbidezza ... was hailed as a happy novelty by her friends.” With the help of a silent backer, the designer establishes Schiaparelli Pour le Sport at 4 rue de la Paix.
Bettina Jones, a muse to Schiaparelli, wearing the designer’s swim ensemble.
“Of all the names in gilded letters along the platinum rue de la Paix, there are none younger and few more important than the tongue-twisting ‘Schiaparelli!’ declares a wire service report. “Certainly, Schiaparelli is a name that’s made hundreds of appearances in American newspapers and magazines during the past year, connected with the idea of a new type of sweater….” Schiaparelli wins raves for her fur scarves.
Presents biggest collection to date. Tells the Sun Journal: “It is futile to attempt to dig fashion inspiration out of a dead epoch, no matter how beautiful. Our dynamic modern life demands similar attributes in our clothes. We are living in an age of steel and skyscrapers—not sighs and sofas.” Launches the unisex perfume “S,” the first in a line of successful fragrances. It is followed by the day-to-night trio: Schiap, Soucis, and Salut, with bottles by Jean-Michel Frank (1934); Shocking, in a flacon resembling Mae West’s torso designed by Leonor Fini (1937); Snuff, for men, bottled in a Rene Magritte-inspired pipe (1939); Sleeping (1940); Le Roi Soleil with bottle and packaging by Salvador Dali, (1946); Zut (1948); Succés Fou (1953); and S (1961). The stock market crashes in October.
Bettina Jones in a Schiaparelli pinafore dress with a sleek Art Deco look.
The fashion world—and copyists—go gaga for Schiaparelli’s knit “Madcap.” “The things she creates are usually simple. But there is always something interesting and amusing about them,” notes The Pittsburgh Press. “One of her favorite words is ‘amusing.’ And she has carried this ‘amusing’ idea not only into her designing but her selection of materials.”
Actress Gertrude Lawrence in a Schiaprelli dress made of “crinkly white mourning crape.”
Vogue concurs, writing: “Hampered by none of the dressmaking traditions and possessing a strong sense of color, as well as many ideas, Madame Schiaparelli made a bold attack on fabrics. The conventions of cut held no restraint for her, rather were they something to be ignored in her avoidance of the banal. Her artistic equipment stood her in good stead, and the result was smart, unusual, individual clothes that have a practical side, as well, and no stigma of eccentricity.”
Simone Demaria in Schiaparelli beach pajamas.
Schiaparelli’s winning dress and short jacket combo.
Tennis star Lili de Alvarez wears Schiaparelli’s split skirt at Wimbledon. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle declares Schiaparelli to be “modern in the real meaning of the term. …It is real modern as opposed to the rather widespread misconception of the term which assumes that modern means bizarre and ultra. …Some of the innovations which her effort to simplify dress and reduce it to a few essential principles has brought about are the knitted washable blouses to wear with suits, the matching jackets for evening gowns, the sport dress with the divided skirt, the sling scarf which gives the shabbiest suit an air of chic, and such practical details as clippers and zippers so that the modern woman who is always in a hurry need not bother about hooks and fastenings.” “In three short years, Schiaparelli and Sport have become almost synonymous to all followers of fashion. Many of the ideas that have swept the dressmaking world have been due the originality of Schiaparelli,” notes Vogue. Schiaparelli collaborates with Elsa Triolet, wife of the poet Louis Aragon, designs an “aspirin” necklace; this is one in a line of many fortuitous creative partnerships.
Joan Crawford in a broad-shouldered black velvet Schiaparelli design.
Joan Crawford in a Schiaparelli dress and jacket.
“One of the youngest couturieres in Paris is also one of the greatest of them. We refer to Mme. Schiaparelli,” states The Buffalo Evening News. “She has a remarkably acute sense of color. She has a feeling for young clothes, and she has a genius for simplicity. Her new summer collection is another triumph. The silhouette remains, in general outline, slim and straight, with two differences; the very high waistline and the flaring shoulder line.”
Ruth Covell in a bustled Schiaparelli dress.
Schiaparelli continues with the Directoire line in August, but lowered backs. To accentuate the straight line of the body, The Montreal Star reports, Mme. Schiaparelli uses a square padding placed in the hollow of the back…with fullness gathered entirely to that one section.”
Two women in slim-lined, high-waisted Schiaparelli suits.
Flanner remarks that “one of the explanations of her phenomenal success here [in Paris] was the un-European modernity of her silhouettes, and their special applicability to a background of square-shouldered skyscrapers, of mechanics in private life and pastimes devoted to gadgetry. It is significant that, among strict Parisians, her vogue in Paris is one of snobbery; a frock from Schiaparelli ranks like a modern canvas in boudoirs determined to be à la page. In America, her limited, her exclusive, appeal has been positively wholesale.”
Millicent Rogers in an embellished Schiaparelli dinner suit.
“Every woman has at least one of Schiaparelli’s suits or frocks,” The Daily News reports. “She’s the big vogue today….Mme. Peralta Ramos (Millicent Rogers) wears a Schiaparelli suit around Paris….and so does Lady Davis and Mrs. Harrison Williams. But you can just look at the list of the Famous Forty and save me the trouble of putting down the rest of the names.” In February, the designer shows “stiffened shoulder trays, giving the broadest line yet seen,” according to The Montreal Gazette, which also made note of the designer’s focus on the “geometrical cut…which creates a sort of flat stylized figure like those in Egyptian bas-reliefs.... While both these trends lead away from feminine curves, there is not the slightest boyish feeling in the new mode… Another thing noticeable about the new styles is the refreshing lack of period revivals. We have almost decided to ‘be our age.’ ”
A high-collared wrap coat with wide, winged shoulders.
In August, as one headline announced, Schiaparelli “Turn[ed] Her Back on Gay 90’s and Early 1900s”—her focus was instead on Chinese motifs.
In a taffeta dinner suit of her own design.
Schiaparelli’s use of themes to organize collections was novel at the time, and was noted by The Commercial Appeal, which wrote: “It is not only the unusual designs which Mme. Schiaparelli presents which makes news, but the superior intelligence she displays in her subjects, and she never fails to select a subject, an event, or some live and interesting thing, upon which to build her designs. It is this, that she excels at to a greater degree, than all of Paris, and the world in creating outstanding and distinctive costumes for women who demand the unusual.”
Evening dress with “fin drapery” and a balloon-sleeved jacket.
In January, Vogue “Forecasts a Wind-Swept Spring.” Into this, Schiaparelli lets fly her “bird silhouette,” which was alternatively labeled “the typhoon silhouette, her latest interpretation of the windblown idea,” notes The Stockton Independent. “Jutting necklines, bodices pushed forward by darts or bias seamings, and skirts introducing a wealth of imaginative bird-and-fish details in small curved wings and fin-shaped folds—all give further impetus to the windswept movement.” This look is also termed the Cellophane. Scarves add to the fun. Schiaparelli’s “glass” dress, made of Khodophane developed by by Colcombet, and interwoven with other materials, debuts in August. Also on offer, according to the UP, were “parachute capes of stratosphere blue, dachshund dog muffs, poke bonnets, and Francois Villon hats.” Schiaparelli is featured on the August cover of Time Magazine.
“In Schiaparelli’s new house in the Place Vendôme, down the stairway festooned in blue velvet, steps a terse figure—the epitome of spring 1935,” announced Vogue.
Moves into a new space on the Place Vendôme, which features a take-away boutique on the lower floor, called the Schiap Shop. The designer’s First collaboration with Salvador Dali takes the form of a compact in the shape of a telephone dial. “Schiaparelli Comes Out With Celestial Silhouette, Television Hat, Rug Wrap,” announces The Cincinnati Enquirer, explaining that the new shape thus: “With the figure draped in soft, spiral folds, narrow below the knee, and somehow reminiscent of the popular idea of Cleopatra.” The collection, featuring what would become Schiaparelli’s famous newsprint, is called Stop, Look, and Listen.
Finishing touches at the collections.
Finishing touches at the collections, including the Schiaparelli’s news prints and glass fan.
“There is a tremendous effort being made in Paris to create novelties which will appeal to fashionable women and which will sell,” notes The Evening Sun. “With every biannual fashion opening one or two new novelties spring up. Some of them stay to make fashion history, as did Schiaparelli’s glass scarves, while others fade rapidly into oblivion.”
Mrs. Vittorio Crespi in a Rhodopahne (satin and glass) dress.
Schiaparelli’s fashions, opines The Commercial Appeal, “are teeming with action. They show trends of thought, of history, of new fields of endeavor which combine science, invention, and the art of modern industry, and yet they remain always the essence of smartness and simplicity. A Schiaparelli design is a cavalcade of the world’s events.” The Baltimore Sun reports that Schiaparelli is the best known Paris name in America, followed by Chanel.
A suit and pantaloon ensemble.
“Royalist purple or gold—Mask and Hairnets.”
The designer’s neo-Victorian silhouette for fall includes pantaloons worn under dresses. They share space with zippered designs, and models carried masks with metal eyelashes. In December, as part of a trade show in Moscow, Schiaparelli shows clothes designed for Russian workers. The following June Vogue would publish an “Impossible Interview: featuring an illustration by Miguel Covarrubias of Schiaparelli and Josef Stalin wearing parachutes.
A sari-inspired wrapped evening dress.
“The snug, close fit of Schiaparelli clothes is ensured this season by zipper fastenings,” reports The Calgary Albertan, speaking of the summer 1936 collection. “They zip up and down side seams, in diagonal lines on evening gowns that are cut on the bias, they close pockets of country suits and sports clothes and are even found occasionally on shoulder seams.”
In April, the designer presents the “parachute silhouette,” so named, noted The Chickasha Daily Express, because “the skirts have sufficient soft fullness to drift lightly as the mannequin walks.” “Schiaparelli is not one to accept the obvious, so she merely suggests that the waist might be somewhere around the bust,” reports Vogue in April. “Sometimes she uses a yoke at the bust-line, sometimes highly placed buttons, sometimes pockets or panels that extend above the waist, sometimes she marks no waist-line at all, and every time the result is elongating.”
Notes Vogue: “Practically every single time that Schiaparelli buys a railway ticket, there are fruitful consequences for this world of ours,” referring to her constant search for inspiration. The Manchester Guardian observes that Schiaparelli has “an almost literary interest in stuffs; a toy-box interest in buttons and fastenings; insistence that natural features shall blend with the artificial, and a curious combination or conversion of the homemade element with and into the highly intentional…. In general, fashion depends upon the emphasis of given features–shoulders, waists, backs. This designer provides just a little more emphasis than other people.”
“That famous surrealist, Salvador Dali, inspired Schiaparelli to put pockets like bureau drawers on her suits, reported Vogue.” “Two drawer-pockets on the blue wool suit; five on the black wool.”
This black wool coat has eight bureau-drawer pockets, and there is a fence sitting atop the hat.
Suits with bureau-drawer pockets inspired by artwork by Dali, appear in the collection shown in August and are photographed by Cecil Beaton for Vogue. The designer also explores a “Back to Nature” theme. Accessories of the season include trompe l’oeil gloves, one pair painted with veins, another sporting red “fingernails.” Victoriana enters the picture in the form of pantaloons worn under dresses. “What Schiaparelli does is always important,” The Pittsburgh Press opines. “Her daring combination of formal with informal fabrics is but one instance of her infinite variety .…Of course many of her first ideas are just too wild for general acceptance. But there is good showmanship in her bizarre and extreme, and then a whole feminine world adopts as its own the gentler and subtler interpretation of the drama this clever woman thought up first.” In October, inspired by Coronation of George VI, Schiaparelli uses crown-shaped buttons. The designer visits New York in December and says she can’t wait to shop in the the city’s five-and-dime stores, which makes sense given her proclivity for amusing finishings. “All you have to do is mention that name, Schiaparelli, and if you know your fashions you know that something fanciful has been used to trim whatever it is. A Schiaparelli without novel buttons wouldn’t be a Schiaparelli, that’s all,” asserts The San Francisco Examiner. In December Vogue reports that “the cocktail suit has had a great rebirth of popularity due to Schiaparelli's concentrated interest.”
Collarless jacket and hat with butterfly trimmings.
In February Schiaparelli revisits the hourglass silhouette, plus shows butterflies, corselets, and hand-painted lobsters by Dali. Wallis Simpson, who orders many pieces for her trousseau from Schiaparelli, will be photographed in a lobster dress by Cecil Beaton for Vogue.
Wallis Simpson in Schiaparelli and Dali’s lobster dress.
Fall’s collection, shown in April, is titled Paris 1937, and includes Renaissance-themed decorations and so much more. “Schiaparelli is—as usual—exciting, colorful, decorative, and witty. Motifs are gingerbread and baroque. Butterflies, bees, flowers, are the key-note. And the above-ankle, ballet-skirted evening dress is the big news. These short ballet evening skirts are of striped chiffon or printed linen, worn with braided, pastel kid strap-boots (designed by Andre Perugia, of Padova),” Vogue reports. And, “Just to make sure that everyone knows she is mad, and bad, and wild, she has launched a new perfume and called it ‘Shocking.’ Its package is in one of Schiaparelli’s new colors, which she has called ‘shocking’ too,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Jean Cocteau’s Head of a Woman embroidery is also part of this fall show.
Schiaparelli and Jean Cocteau’s surreal coat.
“Possibly the world doesn’t take seriously a certain evening coat of Schiaparelli—on the back of which is a Jean Cocteau painting transferred in embroidery—a Surrealist painting of a column, two profiles, and a bed of roses. But there’s handwriting on the wall there,” Vogue opines. “We may see more collaboration of Art and Dressmaking, more enlisting of a painter’s work to decorate clothes. And we undoubtedly shall see decor on the back of evening coats.” Not to mention, as the caption to this illustration does, it is guaranteed to “make all your exits memorable.” For spring 1937, declares an August headline in The Sun Times: “Schiaparelli Turns Shoes Into Hats and Uses Birds and Musical Instruments to Fasten Frocks.” The hat is the brainchild of Dali; Jean Schlumberger creates cherub pins that will be immortalized in a Picasso portrait.
Schiaparelli and Dali’s shocking shoe hat.
In December, Vogue reports, “Schiaparelli focuses eyes very high waists by putting short boleros over beltless dresses. Schiaparelli has nothing to do with the hip-line, but concentrates all of her interest around the bust. Her boleros are so short that they look almost like collars, and there is no denying that the dresses under them—fitted to do wonders for your diaphragm and bust—are strong arguments for a high waist-line.”
Christian Bérard’s drawings of the Circus Collection.
Christian Bérard’s drawings of the Circus Collection.
The now famous Circus-themed collection is presented in February, followed by the Botticelli-inspired Pagan Collection in April. It is for that collection that the insect necklace, now in the collection of the Costume Institute, was created.
Looks from the Astrology or Celestial collection.
Astrology is the designer’s theme for August. Her uncle Giovanni Schiaparelli, an astronomer who discovered canals on Mars, had once noted his niece’s self-consciousness about her looks, and told Elsa her beauty marks formed the Great Dipper, which she adopted as a good-luck symbol.
Highlights from the Commedia dell’arte collection.
As Europe is drawing ever nearer to war, the designer closes out the year with a Commedia dell’arte-themed show in October, featuring, “harlequin patchwork embroideries and zippers tipped with tinkling bells.”
A look from the Music collection.
Looks from the Music collection.
In February Schiaparelli creates a collection on a Celestial theme, including, write the wire services, “prints bearing gay designs of angels flying from star to star, balancing on clouds, and playing deck tennis with their halos.” Even as she was looking skyward, the designer has the back view in mind, as evidenced by her use of bustles and aprons. Schiaparelli continues with bustles in August and introduces the wasp waist (shades of Mae West) combined with a “cigarette silhouette.”
A suit from the Cash and Carry colelction.
In September, France and Great Britain declare war on Germany. In October, Schiaparelli’s Cash and Carry Collection features big, hands-free pockets for women at the ready.
The return of Mae West curves.
“A new decade in fashion was ushered in today with Schiaparelli’s svelte silhouette with moulded bodices clinging to waist lines and tightened hips,” the UP reports. “Schiaparelli’s sense of humor shines through her fashions, even in wartime, and her midseason collection is causing much amusement here, writes the Star Wire Service. Chiffon printed squares are shown, marked, in calendar fashion, with the three weekly meatless and also drinkless days, but with the inscription, ‘But there’s always love.’
Suggesting the possibility of ‘buttonless days,” Schiaparelli features a smart tailored suit fastened with huge white safety pins. There are also “angel silhouette” evening dresses inspired by paintings and coats based on choir boys’ “surplices.” The Germans occupy Paris in June. The following month Schiaparelli heads to New York for her “Clothes and the Woman” lecture tour. While in the States, she receives a Neiman Marcus award.
Returns to France briefly. Is back in New York in March where she’ll remain during the war, raising funds for French charities and studying to become an auxiliary nurse.
“Elsa Schiaparelli is my idea of a surrealist turned sour,” writes the famous café society hostess Elsa Maxwell in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A close friend of Dali’s, who designed buttons for her, she is a devotee of the swarming ants and molten watches school of thoughts and politics…. Schiaparelli is no longer affluent, she has a small income from her perfume business controlled from London. She has said she has no desire to design another dress. Well, we shall wait and see. She has a great talent, I gladly admit—and I can remember the time in Paris when she was the most discussed and important figure in the fashion world.”
The designer in a signature turban.
Paris is freed by the Allies in August. The Finn Irene Dana designs the collections shown this October, and in March 1945.
Pierre Cardin is briefly in the employ of Schiaparelli. The designer returns to Paris in July and presents her first post-war collection in September, that features the high-necked Talleyrand silhouette. “Her happiness at being back and hard at work shows in her face. Paris is her workroom. It is here she first made those wonderful hand-knit unstretchable sweaters that put the sweater into the high fashion class. It is here she created the high-shouldered look, the embroidered dinner jacket, ‘the Schiaparelli look.’ And it was Paris that gave her the materials for all of her delightful accessory nonsense that made the life of fashion writers easy,” Vogue reports in November.
Schiaparelli set the trend for platform shoes. She designed these for the shoe company Laird Schober. Admiring them is a woman in a Schiaparelli evening coat with metallic embroideries.
By this point, Schiaparelli picks up the thread she was following pre-war. Though she will continue to be innovative—take her travel-ready, six-pound wardrobe containing eight dresses packed in a bag featuring a Big Dipper motif—there’s a sense that the designer’s moment had passed. Participates in the Theater de la Mode exhibition.
Nostalgic bustles recall a peaceful world of long ago.
Nostalgic bustles recall a peaceful world of long ago.
Hires Hubert de Givenchy to run the ready-to-wear boutique. In February Christian Dior debuts the New Look silhouette. Schiaparelli tells a journalist, “Novelty and exaggeration was my motto then, and I’ve proved I am right.”
The designer, cornered by Irving Penn.
Marks 21 years in business. Starts exploring licensing options, including one for mattresses in America.
During a strike of couture workers strike, Schiaparelli shows a collection of unfinished garments. Schiaparelli expert Dilys E. Blum writes that the motto of the show was “ ‘forgive us our needles and pins and please don’t pull out those basting stitches.’ ” Add deconstruction to the list of Schiaparelli innovations.
De Givenchy, Schiaparelli’s chosen successor, leaves to found his own maison. (Interestingly, de Givenchy’s’ debut offering is built on the idea of separates, as Schiaparelli’s had been. Philippe Venet assumes de Givenchy’s position.
In August presents an insect-themed collection in the garden of her home.
Chanel, who once dismissed Schiaparelli as “That Italian artist who is making clothes,” presents her first collection since 1939. “Life has changed for elegant women,” Schiaparelli tells the UPI. “Even people with money aren’t spending it the way they used to.” Shutters couture operations. Publishes her memoirs, Shocking Life. Reviewing it, Leo Lerman writes: “Elsa Schiaparelli was a headline attraction in the international glitter-glamour freak show of the late Twenties and pre-war Thirties. She was right up there with Elsa [Maxwell] and Elsie [de Wolfe] and Mona [Harrison] and Daisy [Fellowes] and Wallis [Simpson] and Thelma [Furness] and Cecil [Beaton] and Cole [Porter] and Noel [Coward]. Schiaparelli invented or made fashionable much of what the haute monde wore, and as is ever the way of fashion, some of this simmered down to women of lower economic levels, continuing to influence female taste today.”
Schiaparelli wearing a split skirt in London, 1935.
Dies in Paris, aged 77. The New York Times obituary resurfaces a quote from a 1953 interview with the designer, that sums up her approach to life: “Dare to be different.”
Yves Saint Laurent’s tribute to Schiaparelli, fall 1980 couture.
Yves Saint Laurent, who had enjoyed Schiaparelli’s patronage, presents a collection dedicated to the Italian designer and the French poet Louis Aragon. “She slapped Paris. She smacked it. She tortured it. She bewitched it. And it fell madly in love with her,” he would later write in the introduction to Palmer White’s 1986 biography, Elsa Schiaparelli: Empress of Paris Fashion.
Dilys E. Blum curates “Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to which the designer had made a generous donation of her work.
The Costume Institute presents “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” The maison reopens on the place Vendôme.