Elsa Schiaparelli

When I was in design school in the mid to late 80s, I knew very little about Elsa Schiaparelli. I knew more about Chanel and even gravitated towards her aesthetic, also because I have a French background. And we share the same birth stone and zodiac sign.

In the early 70s Chanel had passed on and Karl Lagerfeld had taken over the house. Chanel and Elsa were rivals throughout Schiaparelli’s professional life. Maybe this rivalry even, pushed them into the history books: the two most well known women European fashion designers of the 20th century.

Chanel surpassed Schiaparelli because Elsa had to close her house down in 1954, whereas Chanel kept working and growing her business. Who knows what would have happened if Elsa’s business had kept going.

This year from May 10 to August 19 2012, The Costume Institute and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City will exhibit a retrospective of Elsa Schiaparelli juxtaposed with Miuccia Prada. On the evening of May 7,  The Costume Institute will host its Gala Benefit, which I’m sure will be visited by many Super Stars both famous and infamous.

I have found some beautiful Men’s neckties from the 1950’s, which will be featured in the store Shuushuu by Lulu during the month of May as the retrospective at the Met in NYC fast approaches. These ties have the signature fuchsia logo lining and the label with Her Signature and the poodle attached.

A Short Bio:

Elsa Schiaparelli was a French- Italian Fashion Designer, born at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome in 1890. Schiaparelli went on to marry one of her lecturers, Count William de Wendt de Kerlor, a Franco-Swiss Theosophist.  In 1921 they moved to New York, where Schiaparelli immediately responded to the modernity of the city. Schiaparelli did not adapt to the changes in fashion following World War II and her business closed in 1954. She died in Rome, Italy Nov. 1973.

Elsa collaborated with Jean Cocteau, Salvidore Dali, Francis Picabia and Alberto Giacometti. The Surrealists and the Dadaists had a huge influence on her designs. They were highly conceptual and creative. And she designed the first of many prototypes, such as brightly colored zippers, appearing first on her sportswear in 1930 and again five years later on her evening dresses. Not only was she the first to use brightly colored zippers, but she was also the first to have them dyed to match the material used in her garments. She was the first to create and use fanciful buttons that looked more like brooches. They came in the shapes of peanuts, bees, and even ram’s heads. In Parisian fashion, she invented culottes, introduced Arab breeches, embroidered shirts, wrapped turbans, pompom-rimmed hats, barbaric belts, the “wedge,” a soled shoe that would trend through the 20th century and into the next, and mix-and-match sportswear, the concept of which would not be fully recognized for another forty to fifty years.

Elsa Schiaparelli pronounced “Skiaparelli”.

Till Next Time!!!!!!!