Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) She was a great-niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, who discovered the canals of Mars.
"She was the first to use shoulder pads, hot pink, calling it shocking pink, in 1947, animal print fabrics, and zippers dyed the same colors as the fabrics. She is also well known for her surrealist designs of the 1930's, especially her hats, including one resembling a giant shoe, and one a giant lamb chop, both which were famously worn by the Franco-American Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes, who was one of Schiaparelli's best clients and who owned a pink gemstone that inspired the color shocking pink. She collaborated with many surrealist artists, Dalí, Jean Cocteau, and Alberto Giacometti, between 1936 and 1939.
"She designed a number of perfumes in addition to clothing; the first and most famous of which, named Shocking, was created in 1936. Shocking is famous less for the fragrance itself than for its packaging: besides a box in (as the name suggests) shocking pink, the bottle itself was in the shape of a woman's torso, based on the curvacious body of one of Schiaparelli's clients, film star Mae West. For West, she designed costumes for the Hollywood film "Every Day's a Holiday." She also designed Zsa Zsa Gabor's costumes for the film "Moulin Rouge."
Schiaparelli opened her first salon, Pour le Sport, in 1927, and as the name indicates specialized in sportswear. In 1935 Schiaparelli she moved to a salon overlooking the (Click link for more info and facts about Place Vendôme) Place Vendôme." Elsa Schiaparelli
In 1934 Elsa Schiaparelli opened a shop in London and also moved her Paris salon to 21 place Vendome.
Philadelphia Museum of Art mounted an exhibit of Schiaparelli's designs in 2003. "Shocking!" The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli
The curator of the exhibition has written a book! Buy Shocking!
"Shocking!" The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli September 28, 2003 - January 4, 2004
"Writing in The New Yorker in 1932, Janet Flanner observed that "a frock from Schiaparelli ranks like a modern canvas," and the Paris fashion designer herself defined dressmaking as an art rather than a profession. The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates the extraordinary Elsa Schiaparelli--acknowledged by her contemporaries as the style arbiter of the 1930s--in the first major retrospective exhibition and catalogue to examine the ways in which her creations mirrored the social, political, and cultural climate of her times.
This survey explores the Italian-born designer's career from its modernist beginnings in the 1920s, through its connections with surrealism, to the upheavals of war, the business struggles in the years thereafter, and finally the closure of her salon in 1954. It is particularly appropriate that this project has been undertaken by an American museum, for Schiaparelli readily acknowledged that her special relationship with the United States--sparked by the sale of a trompe l'oeil sweater to an American buyer in 1927--was the foundation of her great success, and her impact upon and relationship with the American fashion industry is considered here in detail for the first time.
Schiaparelli designed for the modern woman: she created the practical wardrobe for aviator Amy Johnson's solo flight to the Cape Town in 1936; the culottes for tennis champion Lily d'Alvarez that outraged the English lawn tennis establishment in 1931; and the interchangeable wardrobe that she herself wore on her extensive travels. She had a close relationship with the Parisian artistic community, posing for Man Ray and collaborating with such artists as Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, and Marcel Vertes for designs of clothing, fabric, embroidery, jewelry, and advertising. Schiaparelli was prized by women on the best-dressed list, including Millicent Rogers, Daisy Fellowes, Mrs. Harrison Williams, and Lady Mendl, and the clothing they wore will be among the items featured in this selection. Schiaparelli's involvement with film and theater costume was equally celebrated--her designs appeared in more than thirty motion pictures, including Every Day's a Holiday with Mae West and Moulin Rouge with Zsa Zsa Gabor--and is the subject of study here for the first time."
980472: Whiting & Davis WhitingDavisCo gold mesh evening bag DESIGNED AFTER SCHIAPERELLI and marked as such. According to page 114 of "Handbags" by Eittinger, the cooperation between Whiting & Davis and Schiaperelli dates to 1936. Bag features metal mesh handle and an unusual wide upper band. Measures 6 x 4 1/2 x 1". Some wear to finish on button of latch and several tiny lipstick stains and soiling of gold satin lining. But generally excellent condition. SOLD for $65 in 1999 at Bag Lady Emporium
This November 15, 1937 magazine ad for Whiting & Davis'WhitingDavisCo Christmas line featured two "After Schiaparelli Schiaparelli" designs. Item B is the "Merry Widow" design while style C is described as "A Schiaparelli design with atop strap handle."
"SANTA, THE FAMOUS BAG MAN, SAYS:
Take it from Santa, the Whiting & Davis bags for Christmas this year are the prettiest and the most varied that you have ever seen in the stores. You'll find new bags there of all kinds, in all sizes and styles of metallic mesh, for all sorts of occasions. Several of the handsomest are genuine "After Schiaparelli" designs. In their brilliant colors of gold and silver and white pearl these Whiting & Davis bags make rich gifts — rich but not costly, as pricing them at your favorite bag department or jeweler will prove. Ask to see them." (Vogue November 15, 1937, page 128)
Elsa's 12 Commandments
1. Since most women do not know themselves they should try to do so.
Schiaparilli designed wallets and leather items of Aristocrat along with Lilly Dache' LillyDache. This news item was included in the Belts and Billfolds column of the May 1955 issue of Handbags & Accessories, page 41.
In 1951 Schiaparelli discontinued the couture part of her business, she limited her designs to accessories and in the 70's she made wigs. The Haute Couture salon went bankrupt in 1954, upstaged by flamboyant younger designers in the Post War Era. She moved to the United States and lived in Greenwich Village. She died in 1973 at the age of 83. Her house was re-opened in 1977 by a designer team. Her lingerie and perfumes also still continue to be sold.
Actress Marisa Berenson is her Grandaughter.