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    Who is Elsa Schiaparelli ?


If I tell you haute couture, you think Chanel, Dior, Lanvin, Balmain and so on.

What is certain is that the first brand you think of is probably Chanel, but at the same time there was a designer who was the direct rival of Coco Chanel, whose work was antipodes of his, ELSA SCHIAPARELLI.

Her name is less famous today but she was (and still is) a major figure in the world of haute couture.

It is nevertheless necessary to know that in the 30/40/50’s the influential women who made France the fashion capital were Gabrielle Chasnel (known as Coco Chanel), Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, of whom I have already spoken here Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin and Madame Grès and its famous draped which I will discuss shortly.

Today I want to tell you about Elsa Schiaparelli who is the one who has most impacted my work in fashion because her creations always revolves around the fusion of fashion and art.

I am clearly influenced by this woman who fascinates me and I love the way she revolutionized fashion.

Above all I still give you some important information about it.

Elsa Schiaparelli is a fashion designer of Italian origin born in 1890 and died in 1973 in Paris.

She grows up in a cultured family, but she shows an attraction for the subversive things perceived in her environment as shocking and irreverent attitudes.

In order to make her a young woman respectful of the good morals and social conventions inherent in her environment, she is sent to a convent but nothing is done.

His need for freedom, to explore the world, to go against the rules is stronger.

She left the convent after a hunger strike and moved to London in 1910.

After a brief love story with a count, Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor with whom she will have a daughter, Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha of Wendt de Kerlor, who later will be the mother of the Berenson Sisters, Berry (died in towers on the 11th September 2001) and Marisa (best known as model and actress), she decided to leave London and moved to Paris in the early 1920s.

La comtesse Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha de Wendt de Kerlor, fille d'Elsa Schiaparelli
La comtesse Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha de Wendt de Kerlor, fille d’Elsa Schiaparelli

Countess Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha of Wendt de Kerlor, daughter of Elsa Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli et ses petites filles Les soeurs Berenson. Berry à gauche et Marisa à droite
Schiaparelli et ses petites filles Les sœurs Berenson. Berry à gauche et Marisa à droite

E. Schiaparelli and his little daughters The Berenson sisters. Berry left and Marisa right

Below are some photos of Marisa

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While accompanying a friend who went to the shop of the huge and influential couturier Paul Poiret, she made the acquaintance of the latter who found it immediately interesting and offered to lend her some creations that she would put so that she could to represent her creations at parties, which would inevitably attract new clients.

She accepted and it was at this point that the idea of working in the fashion industry was obvious to her.

Her career in haute couture really began in 1927 when she opened her first clothing store, which was to be her own creations.

One of his pieces which had a phenomenal and international success is a sweater with big knots in trompe l’oeil.


Elsa Schiaparelli
Le pull au nœud trompe l’oeil d’Elsa Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli’s Knit Sweater Trompe l’oeil

This piece is already announcing the way in which Schiaparelli amuses himself with fashion and proposes things that one does not expect to see.

Elsa Schiaparelli brings to the fashion of the time a new air, and the French woman too classic to her taste fashioned by the tailor in tweed Chanel, becomes a woman full of humor, with a hint of impertinence, which Liberates a little from the framework of conventions, reveals its forms and confers them even a poetic and artistic dimension.

The Schiaparelli era is officially launched and its creations will always be the antipodes of Coco Chanel which was somewhat condescending considering that Elsa Schiaparelli disguises women while she dresses them.

I must honestly acknowledge that I understand the thought of Chanel because it’s not easy to assume to bear the creations of the time of Schiaparelli given the audacity she shows in her creations and her vision of the fashion.

If one takes into account the original cuts, prints with surrealist accessories such as the shoe transformed into a hat that was inspired by a photo taken by Gala of her husband Salvador Dali that she lives with her shoe resting on her head If it were a hat, bear paw gloves, clock hat and many other creations that are inspired by the world of art, we can quickly make a shortcut and consider that it’s disguise even if in fact the work of Schiaparelli is more precisely in the current of Surrealism.

Schiaparelli didn’t cease to merge artistic creation and fashion in the art world and having friends like Dali who designed the lobster dress, Cocteau of which she reproduced drawings on certain pieces, Man Ray who photographed Elsa repeatedly.

Elsa Schiaparelli et Salvador Dali
Elsa Schiaparelli et Salvador Dali
La robe homard dessiné par Dali pour Elsa Schiaparelli
La robe homard dessiné par Dali pour Elsa Schiaparelli

The lobster dress designed by Dali for Elsa Schiaparelli


Elsa Schiaparelli
Dessin de Cocteau reproduit par Elsa Schiaparelli

Drawing of Cocteau reproduced by Elsa Schiaparelli


Elsa S. en Elsa photographiée par Man Ray en 1931
Elsa S. en Elsa Schiaparelli photographiée par Man Ray en 1931

Elsa S. in Elsa Schiaparelli photographed by Man Ray in 1931


With her the woman emancipates herself from the role in which she’s locked up and tells herself in different facets.

She is free, light, full of humor, imprint of gravity. It’s sometimes disturbing, agonizing, dangerous.

It’s not insignificant if Elsa Schiaparelli was the one chosen to create clothes for the film Women of George Cukor released in 1940.

ES réalise les costumes pour ADRIAN célèbre costumier qui a travaillé pour LE FILM FEMMES
Elsa S. réalise les costumes pour ADRIAN célèbre costumier qui a travaillé pour LE FILM FEMMES de G. Cukor

Elsa S. realizes the costumes for ADRIAN famous costumer who worked for THE FILM « WOMENS » by G. Cukor


The woman Schiaparelli does not allow himself to be reduced to the tailor of Coco Chanel. It is full of audacity and reinvents itself unceasingly.

One can say that through the prism of art, Schiaparelli tells this woman of many facets and thousand lives.

This woman refuses to allow herself to be locked up in the platitude and hyper-bourgeoisie of an imposed reality. It creates its own reality.

She reinvents fashion and for my part I would say that like Magritte who exposed her canvas with the famous phrase « this is not a pipe » (« ceci n’est pas une pipe« ), Schiaparelli constructs the image of a woman who doesn’t want to let us confine ourselves to the first assertion of what a woman should correspond or resemble.

If she was still alive I would have offered her a pub campaign of a woman dressed in Chanel and below would be written This is not a woman :).

Of course I like Chanel very much but my heart really scales more of the side Schiaparelli.

Through fashion, it allows people to express their fantastic side, not to revel in the banality of reality, to go beyond this daily life, to explore surrealism, to open the door to the unconscious, of the silent desires of our deep self whose deafening cry resounds in us.

I like that everything is perceptible in his creations. I like that it confers theatricality to our life that needs it.

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His creations are an escape from the disarray of life.

Elsa Schiaparelli has brought a lot to fashion, LOT.

It is to her that we owe a whole generation of creators who have made the choice not to limit themselves to the idea of just dressing but to create clothes that allow telling oneself.

I find his influence in the fantastic Mc Queen, Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo creator of Comme des garçons, Martin Margiela creator of the brand of the same name, John Galiano, Viktor and Rofl and many others.

I also found her influence in most of the outfits worn by Lady Gaga.

Le chapeau Homard de Philip Treacy pour Lady Gaga
Le chapeau Homard de Philip Treacy pour Lady Gaga

Philip Treacy’s Lobster Hat for Lady Gaga


Really I have seen how Schiaparelli ultimately influences much more on current fashion than any other creator.

The house Schiaparelli has reborn from these ashes for a few years and each creation although very current carries in it a tribute to its creator by reactivating in small modernized touches the details that make her signature.

What I miss a bit is the whimsical side she had but the pieces from the latest collections are stunning as you can see.

Here I wanted to tell you about this woman who is a true inspiration for me and whose work has a particular resonance in my creative approach.

You can find out more about la maison Schiaparelli here.

I will soon speak of an unknown creator.

Meanwhile I tell you to soon.

Take care of yourself.

Je vous embrasse.


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