Iconic Designer: Elsa Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli Elsa was the pre-war genius couture designer who shaped the 21st century fashion. She was a rival to Coco Chanel and was flamboyant and outlandish in her designs, this led to her becoming one of the world’s most recognised artists today. Schiaparelli collaborated with and worked alongside surreal artists and invented art designed inspired pieces resulting to the masterpiece Lobster Dress, the shoe hat and the skeleton dress that caused quite a scandal in 1938. Her fashion ethos were simple, iconic, and revolutionary.










Schiaparelli’s collections were vast, well-produced and outstandingly unique. Her knitwear collection, launched in 1927, was heavily swayed towards the Surrealist art movement, featuring jumpers and sweaters that encompassed ‘surrealist trompe l’oeil’ prints – compositions that exhibited surprising, vivid optical illusions.











One of her inspiring collections was based entirely around African iconography. Collections were assembled, incorporating themes such as musical instruments, as well as sailor’s tattoos, butterflies and pagan, astrological and circus collections.













‘The Lobster Dress’ – a collaboration with Salvador Dali – was an exhibition in itself. The dress, made in 1937, was notably worn by Wallis Simpson, in a ‘pre-wedding shoot,’ weeks before her marriage to Edward VIII in the grand castle, Chateau de Cande. Her one-of-a-kind dress, featuring a large, crimson lobster as its centrepiece, was the flagship for pre-war fashion.

The famous ‘Lobster Dress’ by Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli

The famous ‘Lobster Dress’ by Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli











She invented the shocking pink colour and more recently, Elsa has been acknowledged as the inspiration for contemporary global designer Marc Jacobs. His passion for trompe l’oeil is heavily influenced by Schiaparelli’s career, from the faux-bow sweater that started her career to the obscure, sombre collection spectacle that finalised it.

Things introduced to the world of high fashion by Elsa Schiaparelli include square shoulders combined with nipped-in waistlines, wacky prints, graphic patterned sweaters, jackets to wear with evening gowns, the long runway walked by tall, thin models, ready-to-wear boutiques for couturiers, sportswear mix-and-match separates, colored zippers, the wrap dress, the skort, man-made fabrics and the wedge heel.

In true ‘glitter-glamour’ glory, Schiaparelli’s pastel evening dress

In true ‘glitter-glamour’ glory, Schiaparelli’s pastel evening dress

Schiaparelli’s designs, it seems, are timeless, whimsical and sometimes ridiculous – yet almost always elaborate, stunning, and wonderful. A quote from Schiaparelli has quickly become the motto of contemporary artists and designers: “Dare to be different”. This is, climatically, what she did best.

Born 1890 – died 1973 (designer) worked alongside Dali, born 1904 – died 1989 (textile, designer)
To find out more about the pre-war fashion icon, visit the website dedicated to her. The fashion house created by Elsa Schiaparelli in is making a comeback this July, reopening the boutique at 21 Place Vendôme in Paris.

If you’re at all interested in fashion history, or even just like looking at purty dresses, take a romp through these galleries: the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 2004 exhibit, “Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli,” and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s awesome interactive timeline of the Golden Age of couture.
[Article Source:vandoak.com, thehistoryblog.com


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