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A cheat sheet on Elsa Schiaparelli
The brand most well-known for mastering the genre of wearable art.
Art Stuff 21 Mar 2023

Maison Schiaparelli is an haute couture house created by avant-garde Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli in 1927. The brand is most well-known for mastering the genre of wearable art, encompassing themes such as astrology, tattoos, paganism, the circus, and of course Surrealist art. 

Who could forget their most recent spring 2023 Haute Couture collection featured models wearing animal-inspired clothing? Fear not, the animal models adorned were fake!

Salvador Dalí & Elsa Schiaparelli, Eye of Time, 1959 via Connie Witherell

During her reign, Elsa Schiaparelli instilled a creative spirit in 20th-century fashion with her inventive imagination and revolutionary vision of sportswear, Haute Couture, art, fragrance, and ordinary elements turned into elaborate creations. Her iconic collaborations with artists like Dalí, Cocteau, Man Ray, and Giacometti became legendary.

@Schiaparelli with the Spring Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection held at Paris Fashion Week via DSCENE

Nowadays, the Maison Schiaparelli, led by Creative Director Daniel Roseberry, cultivates this incredible heritage, offering women of the 21st century the essence of a bold style and timeless allure.

Here are ten facts about the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who founded the Maison.

  1. Elsa Schiaparelli was born in Rome, Italy in 1890 to an aristocratic family. Her mother was a Neapolitan aristocrat and her father a was an accomplished scholar.
  2. She was known for her avant-garde designs and collaborations with artists. Elsa Schiaparelli’s first collaboration is with Russian-French writer Elsa Triolet to create the iconic Aspirin Necklace, which is composed of porcelain beads that are reminiscent of the pain-relieving tablets. This collaboration marked the first long line of Elsa’s collaborations. She later worked with the greatest minds of her time, including Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, and more.
  3. Elsa Schiaparelli studied philosophy at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” before pursuing fashion design. Her studies in philosophy helped shape her creative approach to fashion, and she often incorporated intellectual and artistic concepts into her designs.
  4. She worked as a translator and fashion correspondent in London before opening her own fashion house in Paris in 1927.
  5. Schiaparelli was the first fashion designer to use zippers as a decorative element on clothing. Schiaparelli was also renowned for her unusual buttons, which could resemble candlesticks, playing card emblems, ships, crowns, mirrors, and crickets; or silver tambourines and silk-covered carrots and cauliflowers.
  6. The first collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and artist Salvador Dalí was a compact powder case that takes the form of a rotary phone dial. This creation marks the beginning of the duo’s long design relationship and their surrealist visions. Her most famous design with the iconic artist was the “shoe hat,”.
  7. Schiaparelli was a pioneer in the use of bright colors and bold prints in fashion.
  8. During World War II, she closed her fashion house and moved to the United States, where she designed uniforms for the Women’s Army Corps.
  9. Schiaparelli was known for her witty and irreverent approach to fashion, often incorporating humor and irony into her designs.
  10. She retired from fashion design in 1954 and returned to her native Italy, where she lived until her death in 1973.

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