Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Schiaparelli (strikes again)

Coco Chanel's greatest rival is being resurrected from the dead.

Of course, I'm talking about Elsa Schiaparelli.

She was the Isabella Blow of the early 20th century.

Shoe hats. Lobster dresses. Skeleton dresses. Spiraling metal glasses.

A closetful of her designs would be enough to give Lady Gaga a full-blown orgasm.

Schiaparelli created bizarre and surrealistic fashion designs that had people in the 1930s scratching their heads. Of course, today, we think they're cool. She was waaaay ahead of her time.

She closed her shop in 1954 and she died in 1973, but her design house is being revived. The rights to the house were bought six years ago and now her original showroom has been acquired. The first couture line is expected next summer.

Actress Farida Khelfa was named as house ambassador and she's being pretty coy about who will be coming on as the head designer. (There's rumors its John Galliano).

To give you an idea of how cool this is, let me provide you with a little background of Schiaparelli.

The 1920s and 1930s were a whirlwind for the eccentric designer.

She introduced the world to jackets worn with evening gowns, skorts, visible zippers on dresses, and wacky prints (among a zillion other things).

In 1937, the famous designer collaborated with the world's most intriguing artists, creating items of clothing that made her an icon.

She worked with Jean Cocteau to create this legendary jacket.

It was her partnership with Salvador Dalí which raised eyebrows, however.

He painted this lobster dress for Schiaparelli.

The Tears Dress featured a print he made which was intended to give the illusion of torn animal flesh.

He helped her design this skeleton dress.

After his wife jokingly photographed him wearing one of her slippers on his head, Dalí sketched designs for a shoe hat for his friend, which she featured in her 1937-38 collection. It became a popular headpiece for her most famous and wealthy clients.

When she wasn't busy partnering up with her famous artsy friends, Schiaparelli created work inspired by her fans.

Her perfume, "Shocking!" in 1936 came in a bottle shaped like a woman's torso. The bottle, inspired by Mae West, was an explosive pink, which in turn was inspired by her client Daisy Fellowe's famous pink diamond.

Oh, and she is also believed to have invented the first power suit.

So, in other words, Schiaparelli was fucking fabulous.

Needless to say, Chanel hated her guts. The two women tossed insults at each other through news articles.

Unfortunately, after World War II, the bad ass designer refused to keep up with the Christian Dior inspired change in fashion and her business tanked. In 1954, she closed shop. Ironically, it was the same year her rival Chanel decided to come out of retirement.

And now, probably thanks to the success of Lady Gaga's outrageous style, the Schiaparelli house is back.

I can't even imagine what Schiaparelli is going to throw at us next summer.

Are you excited?


Andrés Corella said...

I am really looking forward for this, she is a legend and it would actually fit if it was Galliano, I think he has the creative capability to do her justice.

The Black Label

Josie said...

I went to the Prada/Schiaparelli exhibit at the Met last summer, and it was fantastic. So beautiful.
xo Josie

Bunny Moreno said...

Very informative post-me likey! Looking fwd to seeing what art gets created-I think fashion..modern fashion...has been a bit dull these days. xox

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Sherin said...

Oh wow! Sounds like a lot of styles that were crazy back then are more normal today. That shoe hat seems kind of awesome! I feel like I need one.

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Marvellous designs...very inventive and unique. Can't wait to see what the new line will be like, hopefully something that extends her vision and not just repeats what she already did!! xx

Couture Carrie said...

Awesome post, darling!
Love surrealism, especially in fashion.
That lobster dress is fantastic!


Fashion art and other fancies said...

I do hope Galliano gets the spot. My mother has a few shoe hats and other of her fanciable fancies. Schiaparelli is my kind of fashion.

Miss Laia said...

Well she's not my style at all but no one can say that she's not original, those hat-shows are fun and some of the partnership with Daly pretty awesome work.
Kisses and have a fabulous weekend.xo

Oh to Be a Muse said...

She does sound pretty fabulous! Lady Gaga would totally swoon over this woman and her shoe hats. I do love that she did the jacket over the evening gown thing.

Can't wait to see who the head designer is going to be for this revival.

Mouthwash said...

Ooh this is so exciting!! I can't wait. I've been digging around and around hoping to find some shred of Schiaparelli while on a vintage hunt...But alas. Maybe I can't just start saving for a new piece now...

(Won't happen.)

(maybe estate sale hunting with you?!)


I love the element surrealism in fashion. The Skeleton dress may be one of the most innovative designs I've ever seen. For some reason, it doesn't even feel 'costumy' to me. I didn't know she existed, but interesting to read her rivalry with Chanel. I wonder where the Chanel brand would be today if she hadn't come out of retirement?

Oh, and in reply to your comment on my blog, gurrrrrl you are crazy. I think I may have a slight chance in looking like a cross between Zeta-Jones and Jolie had they been hit by a truck, but thanks for the compliment :)

Meri said...

I've heard the name but knew nothing about her. The shoe as hat part is the best!

Cafe Fashionista said...

Okay. Now that I've seen this post I am convinced that you need to read the book The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. Trust me, you will love it.

P.S. I am so sorry the links didn't work in yesterday's post - I have no clue why. Anyhow, here's a link to the Candie's Midcalf Boots you liked. They are incredible, right? I want the cognac ASAP!! :)

Movies on my Mind said...

Jean Cocteau designed fashion? I thought he made movies. I guess us Europeans are just full of many different talents.

If I said these designs are like a pre-cursor to Vivienne Westwood, would that seem laughable?

livlovelaugh said...

hi cutie~ this is a great post!


Audrey Allure said...

Definitely excited to see what they release!

Caitlin C. said...

I learned SO MUCH from this post... how awesome is this designer... SUCH a legend and way ahead of her time! Her designs are fabulous!!

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Wow, I love how she unabashedly created what she wanted. She really was ahead of her time and it will be great to see what the new designer produces!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Rachel Jensen {Da Paura ♥} said...

So amazing! I love the gorgeous black veil.

Anonymous said...

She's way cooler than Chanel!!!! Of course, I will never ever own any clothing by either fashion house. I want to know what the perfume smells like. I wonder if I can find it on eBay. Very interesting post, you always teach me about stuff I never knew about!!!!!

Also, I was pretty confident in 8th grade, but then once 9th grade rolled around, I went back into my shell and I've stayed there ever since!!!!! My life went backwards lol.

Mona (Mabel)
Guide to Pin-Up Style & Makeup

Mitha Komala said...

yeap she is similar to coco chanel but more eccentric i think! anyways love her work remind me of the early 40s xx

Letters To Juliet

The Grande Dame said...

Well she was ahead of her time, so I'm interested to see what the team comes up with now. It's too easy to be generic or "last week" these days. *reserves the right to be harsh in advance*

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

She was definitely fabulous and her designs would work for today! No, she was a genius! HAHAHAHA Thanks for showcasing her Jen. Awesome post girl.

affinity said...

Thanks for the fabulous lesson and looking forward to the future.