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:
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.