Elsa Schiaparelli is considered to be the exact point where art and fashion collide. The designer and her brand are noted to be seen as art as much as fashion, and a great component of the surrealism movement, which was a very interesting turning point for art as well. Designing pieces that were unique, creative, revolutionary, and extravagant for the time being. Schiaparelli outstandingly shaped fashion, and left a very strong heritage in the industry, having collaborations with important artists like Dalí, Cocteau, Man Ray, Giacometti, and Marcel Vertès.
The Maison’s mission in creating a turning point in the fashion industry started in 1927. Elsa Schiaparelli designs her first trompe l’oeil pattern for a jumper she knits for herself. The pullover in black and white has the appearance of a bow, a pierced heart, a skeleton, or a tattoo of a sailor.
Elsa’s sweater immediately becomes popular around the world due to its stylish optical illusion effect, which inspired the development of the House. And with this simple, but a great idea, the journey starts. Over the years the Maison makes collaborations with surrealist artists, creating interesting pieces unique to what was being offered on a normal basis in the industry.
The first one starts with Russian-French writer Elsa Triolet creating the iconic Aspirin Necklace. In 1935, Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali’s first joint creation was a little powder case that resembled a rotary phone dial. The pair’s long-lasting design partnership and their surrealist ideals begin with this piece, followed by the iconic Lobster dress, worn by socialite Wallis Simpson which was featured in an eight-page spread in Vogue.
Taking into consideration important achievements by the Maison and important collections, it is imperative to mention that with her 1938 collection, Elsa establishes the foundation for contemporary ready-to-wear and Haute Couture by giving it a theme: the zodiac. One of the most recognizable items is a cape that Lesage embroidered with cosmic themes. An embroidered sunray mask made of tinsel and gold thread is on the back. It is the epitome of Elsa’s love of flashy fashion, showcasing her passion for opulent fabrics, needlework, and embellishments. As the war years appear in history, Elsa Schiaparelli departs for New York, where she stays until 1945.
She does, however, continue to operate her Couture House under the direction of her right-hand man to preserve the economic and social standing of her business. Through numerous projects across the Atlantic, including the creation of 13,000 vitamin capsules for the Free France campaign, Elsa continues to assist France from the United States. Luckily, in 1945, once the war was over in July, Elsa Schiaparelli returned to her Couture House, and in September, she unveiled a brand-new collection. To revive Haute Couture in France, she took part in the Théâtre de la Mode exhibition. Moreover, With the “Constellation Wardrobe,” Elsa Schiaparelli develops the idea of a capsule collection tailored exclusively for traveling and lays the groundwork for contemporary ready-to-wear. It weighs less than six kilograms and includes six gowns, one reversible hat, and three foldable hats. The clothing is a sensation because it predicts women’s increased travel and symbolizes their liberation.
Great geniuses of the industry left their mark on the brand as well, like Pierre Cardin and Givenchy in 1947, when he was hired as creative director of the Schiaparelli boutique and stayed there for four years before launching his own Couture House. Many iconic socialites, actresses, and models, also display a preference towards the brand constantly. Such as Hunter Schafer, Anitta, Rita Ora, Janicza Bravo, Natasha Lyonne, and Emma Watson.
The fashion house’s latest collection has a deep and important meaning, that’s easy to say every designer shares. The collection is called “Born Again” and it depicts the way designers and fashion industry workers feel like other people constantly see fashion as silly. But when you stop to think about it, fashion can be still. However, it is controversial, shocking, challenging, and significant. It is stunning. It is lovely. “I always talk about trying to achieve that state of creative innocence—of fighting to stay close to that person who fell in love with fashion and its possibilities, of not succumbing to cynicism or world-weariness.
I hope that spirit comes through in this collection: I hope people who see it can tell what fun the team and I had made it. I hope the joy we felt, of creating things, of getting to make beautiful objects that people will always remember, is evident in every coat, dress, and accessory.” “I think we sometimes get defensive when our critics accuse us of just wanting to make beautiful things. But what’s wrong with wanting to make beautiful things? It’s not the only important part of life, of course, but it is a part of life. And to make truly beautiful things isn’t that easy.
But it is a privilege—and I’m grateful for it every day. Stated Daniel Roseberry. So yes, fashion can be silly in a beautiful way, but that doesn’t mean it is purely superficial or unmeaningful. We can see in art, what we can see in ourselves. And in these 33 looks, several emotions, and possibilities are displayed to be understood in distinct breathtaking forms.
Maison Schiaparelli revolutionized fashion, pioneered an art movement along with influential artists, survived wartime and contributed to France, revived haute couture after hard times, and to this day, continues to create iconic, revolutionary, and unique pieces that draw the entire industry’s attention. The Maison can understand not only their customers in creating pieces unique and creative but also understands fellow designers working in the industry while giving meaning to collections. Fashion and art, are the greatest collision point to this day.
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