Schiaparelli, Elsa

(1890-1973)
   Born in Rome to a distinguished family (her uncle was the astronomer who discovered the Martian canals), she spent her childhood rebelling against her intellectually staid, yet artistic, family. She left Italy in 1913 to travel to Paris and then London, where she married Count Wilhelm Went de Kerlor, who traveled in artistic circles. Her marriage failed and, in 1920, she returned to Paris where she met designer Paul Poiret, who encouraged her career in fashion. After designing for Maison Lam-bal, Schiaparelli opened her first salon "stupidir le Sport" in 1927, specializing in sportswear and trompe l'oeil sweaters. Of particular note was a black-and-white "bow-knot" sweater which was an instant success on both continents. She introduced her perfume, S, in 1928 and, in 1931, designed a divided tennis skirt, worn by tennis star Lili de Alvarez at Wimbledon, which caused a sensation.
   "Schiap," as she is often referred to, was known for innovative, avant-garde ideas and boasted a long list of "firsts." She was the first to use shoulder pads, animal prints, trompe l'oeil prints, and embroidery in clothing. She made dyed-to-match zippers. She was the first designer to issue press releases. In fact, she printed her press clippings on fabric and made them into clothes. She liberally used hot pink (which she termed "shocking pink" in 1937). And, finally, she was known for her friendships and collaborations with the Surreal artists Salvatore Dali, Jean Cocteau, and Alberto Giacometti. One of her muses was Daisy Fellowes, one of the most daring fashion plates of the twentieth century, erstwhile Harper's Bazaar editor, and granddaughter of Isaac Merritt Singer, the inventor of the electric sewing machine.
   Schiaparelli's whimsical, "tongue-in cheek" approach to fashion was reflected in her theme-based collections beginning in 1935 with "Stop, Look and Listen," the "Music Collection" (1937), the "Circus Collection," the "Pagan Collection," the "Zodiac Collection" (1938), the "Commedia dell'Arte Collection" (1939), and her "Cash and Carry Collection" (1940). Schiaparelli's presentations would inspire future designers since they were not the model parade, typical of contemporaries Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet, but rather extravaganzas, with music, acrobatics and light shows. In 1937, her second fragrance, "Shocking," was launched, in a bottle shaped after the voluptuous body of film star Mae West. Her fashion whimsy enabled her to become a huge commercial success on both continents, signing licensing deals with many American companies.
   Schiaparelli took surrealism and made it commercial with her hat that looked like a shoe, a handbag that looked like a telephone, a hat with a complete bird's nest on top and a lobster printed on the front of a white silk dress. At the core of the fierce rivalry between Chanel and Schiaparelli was the fact that Schiaparelli was born into money (Chanel, an orphan) and, although she lacked formal design training, she was skilled at marketing herself and, for a time, even surpassed Chanel in renown. However, in 1954, her couture house declared bankruptcy and Schiaparelli relocated to the United States. Her autobiography, Shocking Life, was published in 1954 and her legacy as a true original was forever recorded. Schiaparelli's showmanship and work as a modern designer has inspired many of today's fashion giants such as Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Her influence in print design can be seen in the work of designer Nicole Miller among others. In 2003, the Philadelphia Museum of Art featured her work and, in 2004, the Musèe de la Mode et du Textile in Paris presented a major Elsa Schiaparelli retrospective exhibition.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Schiaparelli, Elsa — born Sept. 10, 1890, Rome, Italy died Nov. 13, 1973, Paris, Fr. Italian born French fashion designer. After working in the U.S. as a film scriptwriter and translator, she settled in Paris and opened her first shop in the 1920s. By 1935 she was a… …   Universalium

  • Schiaparelli,Elsa — Schia·pa·rel·li (skē äp ə rĕlʹē, skăp , shăp , skyäp ä rĕlʹlē), Elsa. 1896 1973. Italian born fashion designer noted for her use of brilliant colors and synthetic materials in haute couture designs. * * * …   Universalium

  • Schiaparelli, Elsa — (10 sep. 1890, Roma, Italia–13 nov. 1973, París, Francia). Diseñadora de modas francesa de origen italiano. Luego de trabajar en EE.UU. como guionista de cine y traductora, se radicó en París y abrió su primera tienda en la década de 1920. En… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Schiaparelli, Elsa —  (1890–1973) Italian born French fashion designer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • SCHIAPARELLI (E.) — SCHIAPARELLI ELSA (1890 1973) Cette Italienne pleine de fantaisie est venue à la couture par hasard; en effet, Elsa Schiaparelli, après un mariage malheureux et un séjour aux États Unis, doit assurer sa vie et celle de sa fillette «Gogo», et… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Schiaparelli — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Celestino Schiaparelli (1841–1919), italienischer Arabist, Bruder von Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973), italienisch französische Modeschöpferin Ernesto Schiaparelli (1856–1928) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elsa Schiaparelli — Infobox Fashion Designer name = Elsa Schiaparelli caption = On the cover of Time magazine, 13 August 1934. birth date = birth date|1890|09|10|df=y birth place = Rome death date = death date and age|df=yes|1973|11|13|1890|09|10 death place = Paris …   Wikipedia

  • Elsa Schiaparelli — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Schiaparelli. Le fameux rose shocking. Elsa Schiaparelli (née le 10 septembre  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Elsa Schiaparelli — (* 10. September 1890 in Rom; † 13. November 1973 in Paris) war eine italienisch französische Modeschöpferin. Leben und Wirken Geschieden und vom Leben und ihrem Ex Mann enttäuscht, kehrte die in Rom geborene Elsa Schiaparelli im Jahr 1922 aus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Elsa Schiaparelli — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Elsa Schiaparelli (Roma, 10 de septiembre de 1890 – 13 de noviembre de 1973) fue una diseñadora de moda italiana Nació en el Palazzo Corsini en Roma. su padre era decano de la Universidad de Roma y una autoridad en… …   Wikipedia Español

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