Underrated Icons: Elsa Schiaparelli
Have you ever heard of the brand Schiaparelli? Do you know who founded it?
Its namesake, Elsa Schiaparelli, was an Italian fashion designer with an aristocratic background. She founded the House of Schiaparelli in 1927 and started with knitwear. Schiaparelli enjoyed surrealism and eccentric designs. This remains a consistent part of the brand’s image, as they use surrealist pieces reflective of human body parts. They have handbags, jewelry, and garments with eyes, lips, noses, and/or ears, on them, among others.
Elsa Schiaparelli’s biggest rival was Coco Chanel, and Schiaparelli was seen as one of the most distinguished European figures in fashion during the 1930s to the 1950s. One of her inspirations for creation was Paul Poiret. She say him as a dear friend and mentor. He was known for his corsets, long dresses and his focus on promoting styles that allowed movement for the modern and elegant woman.
At the start, Elsa only made clothes for herself, but Poiret encouraged Schiaparelli to start her own business and House of Schiaparelli was born. Her first knitwear collection feature a double layered stitch which were created by Armenian refugees. Her pieces also featured surrealist art (trompe l’œil). Amazingly, her first collection was featured in Vogue. She really grew to fame after she created a pattern that looked like a scarf wrapped around the wearer’s neck. She went on to make sport collections, and then evening wear.
Some iconic pieces that Elsa Schiaparelli created were: wrap dresses, divided skirts, and a bathing suit top with an included bra and straps that crossed in the back and wrap around the body. She is also credited for creating the first evening dress with a matching jacket. During Prohibition, these were known as speakeasy dresses. She created evocative designs that have stood the test of time. These designs impacted multiple parts of life and have been revisited and referenced by many other fashion designers. Elsa Schiaparelli was an inspiration for so many.
The House of Schiaparelli’s current creative director is Daniel Rosenberry. In his collections for Schiaparelli he loves referencing Elsa and using house codes, which he uses advantageously to create pieces that are both beautiful and innovative.
Many famous celebrities wear Schiaparelli pieces and you may have not even known. At the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Bella Hadid wore a black gown with a deep cut neckline that went below her chest, and a golden necklace that resembled the bronchi passageways of lungs. The necklace concealed her top and was a stunning piece of surrealist design in fashion. Another iconic celebrity who wore Schiaparelli is Kim Kardashian. She wore a green dress with a fitted bodice that looked like abs. These are two iconic looks from the last few years that have impacted the fashion scene, and many aren’t aware of the brand behind the designs.
The impact of Schiaparelli continues to grow and there is currently an exhibit at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The exhibit is taking place from July 6, 2022 to January 22, 2023. The exhibit is meant to focus on all aspects of Elsa’s life, her background and her work as a fashion icon. If you can go you definitely should. Tell us what you think on our social medias.
How does Elsa Schiaparelli rank on your list of iconic fashion idols?