Elsa Schiaparelli’s surrealist fashion on display at the Arts Décoratifs
After the flamboyant retrospective devoted to Thierry Mugler, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris will celebrate
the fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli from July 6, 2022 to January 22, 2023.
While the great retrospective Thierry Mugler: Couturissime is living its last weeks at the Arts Décoratifs
in Paris, the museum has just announced the subject of its next exhibition, and it is not to disappoint us.
Named Shocking! The Surreal Worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli, this exhibition will showcase Schiaparelli’s avant-garde
fashion, and with it the genius of her designer.
Elsa Schiaparelli, inspired couturier
Born on September 10, 1890 in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli made fashion her natural way of life. Although she could
not sew well in her early years, she managed to become one of the most avant-garde fashion designers of the
20th century, reinventing the image of women and femininity in her own free and striking way. She dressed the
most adored stars of her time, from Greta Garbo to Katharine Hepburn. As an “inspired” couturier, as she liked
to define herself, she surrounded herself with a whole world of scholars and artist friends such as Jean Cocteau,
Man Ray, Jean-Michel Frank, Meret Oppenheim or Salvador Dalí, but also with her fashion peers Yves Saint Laurent
or Hubert de Givenchy, to the point of embodying the vision of a bright and vibrant Paris, always curious.
These inspirations have shaped her visionary fashion, made of exploration, fantasy and audacity. With her,
fashion truly became a spectacle (and her ties to the world of Dada and then Surrealist artists only reinforced
this), through which she pursued originality, the offbeat, the extreme. For example, she diverted anything
that could bring a touch of eccentricity to her silhouettes, from press clippings to lobster or butterfly motifs,
using surprising materials such as Rodhophane (a transparent plastic), metal or Sèvres porcelain. We also owe
him the inevitable “Rose shocking”, his shade of fuchsia that has become a color in its own right, and to which
the title of the exhibition alludes. But this name, which is moreover its master word, refers at the same time
to its perfume, the “Shocking”, famous for its bottle imagined by the painter Leonor Fini and which took the
curves of the American actress Mae West. LATEST A model wearing an oversized shoe-shaped hat and an outfit with mouth-shaped pockets designed by Elsa Schiaparelli
ullstein bild Dtl / Getty Images 63-72440-6-04 A model wearing a surrealist ensemble by Elsa Schiaparelli circa 1949.
Bettmann / Getty Images
Through drawings, models and jewelry, many of which were donated by Elsa Schiaparelli to the French Union of Costume
Arts (and whose holdings are held by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs), it is this incredible freedom that the exhibition
wishes to offer visitors, starting this summer. As a final gesture, able to preserve her artistic legacy, to preserve
an essential dialogue between art and fashion, and giving the public the opportunity to (re)discover the full talent
of this legendary designer, whose collections still inspire today. Soccer A model wearing a surrealist hat by Elsa Schiaparelli circa 1949.
Bettmann / Getty Images wilburscsouthard A mannequin wearing a pair of glasses adorned with fringed cellophane, created by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1951. This
was her very first eyewear collection.
Keystone-France / Getty Images
Some photos from the exhibition
Bella Hadid in Schiaparelli at the Cannes Film Festival 20212021Photography, © Getty / Andreas Rentz
Views from the exhibition “Shocking! The Surreal Worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli” exhibition © Les Arts Décoratifs /
Look 06 Fall-Winter2021-2022 © Maison Schiaparelli
Look 10 Spring-Summer 2022© Maison Schiaparelli
The memories of Elsa Schiaparelli
The designer Elsa Schiaparelli tells her story in a lively autobiography. Originally published in 1954,
when she retired from fashion, it has been reissued for the occasion of its presentation by the Musée
des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Her years at boarding school, her move to New York where she frequented
avant-garde artists such as Marcel Duchamp or Man Ray, but also her divorce and her beginnings as an
independent designer… The life and career of the woman now considered a major figure in fashion are
retraced in this book, as a glimpse of what was the creative Paris of the interwar period, a time when
everything seemed possible. And the words of Sophie Fontanel in the preface can only make you want to
(re)discover this incredible story.
Shocking by Elsa Schiaparelli
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