Elsa Schiaparelli exhibition

Elsa Schiaparelli exhibition

- Categories : Collaborations

An exceptional designer:

The fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, once the great rival of Gabrielle Chanel, worked with leading artist of the avant-garde Parisian scene of the 1920s-1930s. Her mentor, Paul Poiret, revealed her talents as a designer. The famous Lobster dress (1937) was the result of a collaboration with Salvador Dali, along with the remarkable shoe hat. She also brought out collections inspired by Marcel Duchamp, Jean Cocteau and Elsa Triolet among others.
Her sources of inspiration came from artistic themes that were dear to her: Italian antiques, the commedia dell’arte, the circus, but also music and nature, as seen in her famous Butterflies collection, notably a fantastic jacket decorated with four butterflies of different sizes made from hand-painted celluloid.
Elsa Schiaparelli is known for her extravagant creations, but she also had a sense of practicality and modernity. She was one of the first designers to simplify dressing fashions by using zip fasteners.

The Schiaparelli silhouette:

The Schiaparelli silhouette consists, almost intangibly, of a clothing item and all the accessories – hat, gloves and spectacular jewellery. The buttons are not purely utilitarian, they become veritable works of art under the expert hands of the paruriers.
One of the most famous of these artisans is Jean Schlumberger, who used his talent to interpret the ideas of the sculptor/painter Alberto Giacometti and also Meret Oppenheim. One of her faithful collaborators was Jean Clément (who was married to one of her sales girls), as was the goldsmith, François Hugo, none other than the great grandnephew of the eminent French author, Victor Hugo.

Elsa Schiaparelli and embroidery

In 1936, Elsa Schiaparelli approached the distinguished House of Lesage to interpret her ideas in embroidery. With his prodigious expertise, Albert Lesage was able to capture her caustic humour and sense of fantasy. Their exchanges were mutually fruitful, each inspiring the other.
The Atelier Lesage interpreted the Jean Cocteau drawings, notably a linen jacket with the representation of a woman with magnificent golden hair. The exhibition also has a bolero from the Circus collection (summer 1938), a silk piping embroidery on silk crepe with laces, cabochons, pearls and mirrors representing the acrobats, horses and elephants. There are also some amazing dinner jackets and evening dresses delicately embellished with metallic threads, pearls and sequins. A woollen evening coat from the winter 1938-39 collection is even embroidered with a mix of silk and porcelain!

The fashion illustrations:

The exhibition starts with an impressive room entirely covered with designs from the couture collections dating from 1933 to 1953. Difficult to imagine, but these are not project designs for future clothes, but drawings made for the presentations of the collections in the couture houses. These drawings were presented in brochure form and served as both technical information and promotional support for clients who could not make it to the catwalk shows, so they could order with full knowledge of the products.
In 1973, Elsa Schiaparelli donated 6387 fashion illustrations to the French Union of Costume Art, both loose and in 55 albums.

Elsa Schiaparelli and Shocking Pink:

The shocking pink is a shade of fuchsia launched by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937. This colour was prominent in her ready-to-wear collection and also gave the name Shocking to her first perfume, a face powder and a lipstick. Curiously, the shocking pink colour is not predominant in the exhibition, only the famous Phoebus cape (1938), embroidered with an extraordinary golden mask of Apollo, evokes this emblematic colour of the designer.

Maison Sajou for the Schiaparelli exhibition:

Maison Sajou was honoured to be chosen to offer a selection of haberdashery products in the gift shop at the Museum of Decorative Arts for the Shocking! exhibition. It was also the occasion to create new thread assortments in pink tones in honour of the designer.
- 8 spool gift box polyester sewing thread shocking pink,
- 8 spool gift box cotton sewing thread shocking pink,
- 8 spool gift box pearl silk sewing thread shocking pink,
- 8 spool gift box metallized sewing thread shocking pink.
But also our Toile de Jouy and Queen’s Bedchamber selections of 40 needles, our shocking pink tape measure and our pumpkin-style pin cushions in bright pink Toile de Jouy and our pink Eiffel Tower embroidery scissors.

The exhibition is from 6th July 2022 to 22nd January 2023 at the Museum of Decorative Arts, 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris.

A few dates in the life of Elsa Schiaparelli:

Elsa Schiaparelli was born the 10th September 1890 in Rome, in a family of intellectual aristocrats. A rebel during her childhood and adolescence, she ran from an arranged marriage to Paris and London, marrying the Count William de Wendt de Kerlor in 1914. The couple moved to NewYork in 1916 and gave birth to Maria Luisa, known as Gogo.
In 1922, she left her unfaithful husband and moved to Paris where she met the Dadaists of the time. She started in the fashion industry with trompe-l’oeil sweaters. In 1936, she had her first collaboration with Salvadore Dali. A year later, she launched her first perfume, with a flask designed by Leonor Fini.
She returned to the United States at the beginning of the Second World War, leaving her company in the hands of one of her collaborators, Irene Dana. When peace returned to Europe, she returned to Europe and in 1947, hired a certain Hubert de Givenchy, then only 19 years old.
The last collection from the House of Schiaparelli was in 1954, the founder died in her sleep on the 13th November 1973 at 83 years of age.

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