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Fabulous Elsa !

Shocking Schiaparelli...

Roman by birth, Parisian by heart and worldwide citizen of fashion, Elsa Schiaparelli revolutionised clothing with fantasy and undoubted talent. A true icon of the 1930s, the designer continuously pushed the limits with panache…

The life of Elsa Schiaparelli is a sparkling epic. As the daughter of an esteemed scholar and a descendant of the Medici family, Elsa was born at the Palazzo Corsini in 1890. Raised in an aristocratic and intellectual environment, it came as no surprise that when the young lady was discovered to have penned a collection of poems centred around ancient Greek mythology, her parents sent her away to a convent in Switzerland… the indecency! Later in 1913, Elsa arrived in London where she met Count Wilhelm Wendt de Kerlor, who she went on to marry before departing for New York in 1916. While on her transatlantic journey, she met Gabrielle Picabia, French art critic and wife of famous Dada painter Francis Picabia, who introduced Elsa to the surrealist movement and famed artists of the time including Man Ray and Marcel Duchamps.

Upon her return to Paris in 1922, Elsa worked by day at an antique dealer and by night at the restaurant Le Boeuf sur le Toit. It was while accompanying a friend to the atelier of Paul Poiret that her destiny changed. Instantly drawn by her natural charm and charisma, the couturier dressed Elsa in a few of his garments and opened her eyes to the world of couture and luxury. Marked by a stroke of genius, she made her debut with a hand-knit sweater featuring a trompe-l’oeil bow gracing the front. Recognized by Vogue magazine as a “masterpiece”, the knitwear was an immediate success, gaining recognition as far as the United States and serving as a catalyst to the creation of the Maison.

Shocking Schiaparelli...

Signed with Extravagance

The daring and unexpected union of Haute-Couture and sportswear gave way to a new phenomenon when innovative materials were reimagined into new shapes by the designer now affectionately known as “Schiap”. Collaborating with renowned artists including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau, Schiaparelli brought incredible pieces to life. With Dali, she collaborated on a surrealist lobster dress, the hat-shoe, and a suit with pocket drawers and with Cocteau she transformed the artist’s signature motifs into coats and even jewellery. Avant-garde in every aspect, she was the first female fashion designer to appear on the cover of The Time Magazine in 1934. Braving all elements of the fashion industry, Elsa Schiaparelli sets herself apart in 1937 by inventing a new colour – a fluorescent and shocking pink which becomes her new emblem.

In 1946 Elsa presented a capsule collection entitled “Constellation Wardrobe”, specifically made for women “on-the-go”. Composed of six dresses, a reversible coat and three foldable hats, this “mini-wardrobe” weighed a mere six kilos.

The House closed its doors in 1954 as Schiaparelli devoted herself to penning her autobiography, however it reopened once more in 2006. Under the current artistic direction of Daniel Roseberry, new life breathes into the Maison as beloved and influential codes and iconography are reimagined. Today, Schiaparelli continues to perpetuate the ever flourishing and revolutionary legacy of its founder.


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