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Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was a great rival of Coco Chanel. She was born September 10th 1890 in Rome, Italy . In 1927 she opened her first salon selling sportswear

Schiaparelli designed the wardrobe for several films starting with the French version of “Topaz” in 1933. In 1930 she had created the first evening dress with a jacket, and the first clothes with visible zippers. Her style was startling at the time as she experimented with acrylic, cellophane, a rayon jersey called “jersela and a rayon with metal threads. For the first time synthetic materials were used in couture.

From 1936 to 1939 Elsa worked with surrealist arts, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti. The 1939 Lobster dress was a simple white silk evening dress with a crimson waistband featuring a large lobster painted by Salvador Dali. It was famously worn by Wallis Simpson in a series of photographs by Cedil Beaton taken at the Chateau de Cande shortly before her marriage to Edward VIII. She designed Zsa Zsa Gabors costumes for the film Moulin Rouge in 1952.

Schiaparelli was the first to use shoulder pads and a new colour-hot pink known as shocking pink which became her signature. She became well known for her hats including one resembling a giant shoe and one a giant lamb chop. Like Chanel she designed and produced a range of costume jewellery to enhance her fashion.

Schiaparelli's jewellery output included very distinctive costume jewellery in a wide range of novelty designs. One of her most directly Surrealist designs was a 1938 rhodoid ( a newly developed clear plastic) neclace studded with coloured metallic insects giving the illusion that the bugs were crawly directly on to the wearer's skin (see picture on our facebook page) 

During the 1930's her jewellery designs were produced by Jean Clement and Roger Jean-Pierre who also made up designs for buttons and fasteners. During the 1940's and 1950's Schiaparelli's jewellery tended to be more abstract or floral themed

In 1954 the Schiaparelli couture house went bankrupt. Elsa moved to the USA where she lived until her death in 1973.  Elsa had two daughters Marisa and Berri.......Marisa Berenson is a well known actress. Her other daughter Berri died during the 9/11 attack in New York.


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