Friday, 5 November 2010

Opinion: Elsa Schiaparelli

Among my outfit and purchases posts I would like to share with you the things I find interesting and inspiring. I'll start with a woman I came across quite a while ago thinking- how come I've never heard of her before?! (so do not read any further if you are familiar with her already!)
Her name is Elsa Schiaparelli, an innovator and an outstanding contributor to the fashion world of the early 20th century. She was Italian, and her biggest rival was Coco Chanel. Unfortunately Schiaparelli couldn't adapt to the changes of the world after WW2 and thus had to close her business. But while I bow to the elegance and chic of Chanel trademark pieces, I admire Schiaparelli designs all the more, because they're a relic of the past. An important relic of the past, boundary-less and imaginative.

To give you an idea of what exactly is so memorable about her, here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:

''Her career began with her introduction of graphic knitwear to the world of fashion with knit patterns and emblems. These led to her fanciful prints of body parts, food, and many more unusual themes. She was the first to use brightly colored zippers, appearing first on her sportswear in 1930 and again five years later on her evening dresses. Not only was she the first to use brightly colored zippers, but she was also the first to have them dyed to match the material used in her garments. She was the first to create and use fanciful buttons that looked more like brooches. They came in the shapes of peanuts, bees, and even ram’s heads. In Parisian fashion, she invented culottes, introduced Arab breeches, embroidered shirts, wrapped turbans, pompom-rimmed hats, barbaric belts, the “wedge,” a soled shoe that would trend through the 20th century and into the next, and mix-and-match sportswear, the concept of which would not be fully recognized for another forty to fifty years. While her innovations in fashion design were numerous, it was her creation of the runway show as we know it today that was most influential. Her modern idea of a fashion show included a runway with music and art, and the use of elongated, shapeless women as models. She believed that this boyish figure would best display the clothing. Many people do not realize the true sum of her impact on fashion and the fashion industry.''

The most fascinating thing for me at the moment is her shoe hat!
Which I suddenly felt inspired to write about when I saw this photo on The Sartorialist blog.

Isn't it amazing? I WANT that hat. All of them, in fact.

Here are some other avant-garde designs by her:

Marlene Dietrich

Lobster Dress. Collaboration with Salvador Dali who painted the lobster onto the fabric

Bow sweater designed by Elsa Schiaparelli for her AW 1927 collection. Doesn't this remind you of Marc Jacobs and Sonya Rykiel and well... all the other quality print sweaters?!

Unfortunately I never came across any of her most interesting pieces, because they're so scarce... but I once found a scarf designed by her in a little shop in Chalk Farm in London. The scarf was however really unimpressive, orange, silk, small... and way overpriced! So it was a no-no.


  1. My fave Elsa pieces are her lobster dress ( and the amazing skeleton dress (

  2. she was one extravagant lady!

  3. aww love her creations, she was original, she looked at the future! By the way women in fashion world I adore also the Fontana sisters, their dresses were totally a dream, they designed for the most important divas of the cinema...

  4. interesting! I had never even heard of her so cool to read about it on your blog and get a bit more fashion educated!

  5. I love her!!Being Italian I've always been acquainted with her name.. :)
    Her creations strike me,l even today, as very modern ones!!

    I tagged you in my latest post, come check it out!!! :)


  6. what an amazing story - i had never heard of hear before!! also, that shoe hat is really beautiful!


  7. I love that you've shared Elsa Schiaparelli with us! I've not heard of her before, but I'm hooked. That shoe hat! :)

  8. thank you for your cute comment! :o)
    i have never heard of elsa schiaparelli before (and i hope that this is not a shame!), so thanks for sharing. absolutely inspiring post!

  9. Love the shoe hat which obviously inspired Louboutin's red sole pumps. The thing about Chanel was that she was immensely ambitious and ruthless, and I am not sure how nice a character she was in real life.

  10. Thanx for sharing these pictures, I love her, so free, excentric and surrealist !

  11. Oh, so beautiful.... thanks for sharing:)))))


  12. Wonderful post, super blog!!!

  13. what an amazing hat! so fashion forward!

  14. she was original !!! great blog

    xx Marina

  15. A shoe hat. How original. Thanks for sharing the photos and come and visit me too when you have time.


  16. hey!!! girl.

    i found you,,, and I follow you!!!

    love your Blog...

    kisses from Germany sweety.


  17. She was a true innovator, wasn't she. So different to other designers of her time, and modern even by todays standards. Great post.

  18. finally someone is talking about Elsa!!!
    Great blog, I like it so much!
    If you Are obsessed with glamour we could be followers each other, what do you think? tell me something!

  19. Wow, that's amazing! I can't believe she isn't more talked-about. Thanks so much for sharing this!


  20. Interesting post.

    It reminds me of a similar story between Franzi and Gucci. Franzi used to be a big competitor of Gucci, but nobody's heard of them anymore. It's a shame, because they made fantastic leather goods. I think they are trying to revive the brand as Franzi 1864. Who knows, maybe someday they will be rivals again.. :)

  21. What an interesting post!! I'm so glad I happened to stumble upon your blog, it's fascinating! I wish I had to the time to comment on all of your lovely outfits. Your style is so chic. Definitely following you! Keep up the awesome work...

    xx - L

    I would love it if you stopped by my blog as well!

  22. I also just started to study art and fashion history and found her work amazing. !

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