Joyeux Anniversaire, Elsa Schiaparelli!

Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.Elsa Schiaparelli

Irving Penn American, 1917–2009 Elsa Schiaparelli, New York, March 28, 1948, printed c. 1948 Copyright The Irving Penn Foundation

The incomparable Elsa Schiaparelli was born on September 10, 1890 in Rome. She was educated in Rome, worked as a nanny in London, and then lived in New York and Paris. She opened her first shop in Paris in 1927.

How could I not love a woman who believes eating “gives a spectacular joy to life?” But today’s post is to celebrate her creativity and work. What I like about Ms. Schiaparelli’s designs are the whimsical touches and exaggerated shapes. She collaborated with Surrealist Salvador Dalí on the Shoe Hat.

Shoe hats. Photo courtesy Blast.fr and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Shoe hats. Photo courtesy Blast.fr and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I saw these slightly scary gloves in the Paris Haute Couture exhibit earlier this year.

Schiaparelli, gants du soir, vers 1936. Collection Musée Galliera Veau-velours noir, application de faux ongles en métal doré, couture sellier, couture piquée, doublure en soie blanche. © musée Galliera, Ville de Paris

Gants du soir, vers 1936. Collection Musée Galliera. Veau-velours noir, application de faux ongles en métal doré, couture sellier, couture piquée, doublure en soie blanche.© musée Galliera, Ville de Paris

Her use of texture and shape in this design is stunning. Amazing.

Evening ensemble, ca. 1937.  Hand-sewn plaited gilt braid on chiffon foundation, lined with silk. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Evening ensemble, ca. 1937. Hand-sewn plaited gilt braid on chiffon foundation, lined with silk. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I really like the color combination she used for this gown. I could see wearing this to dinner at a swanky spot.

Dinner dress

Dinner dress, summer 1940. Orange silk jersey, blue silk faille, ceramic. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Schiaparelli’s signature color was a fuchsia she called “shocking pink.” It’s the one shade of pink I actually like.

Schiaparelli tag

Schiaparelli tag

For biographical information, see the official Schiaparelli website and the Voguepedia entry. The fashion house has been revived with Christian Lacroix at its helm – see a Vanity Fair article here.

 

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