Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli

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9780300100662: Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was the premier style arbiter of the 1930s - a favourite designer for women who made the best-dressed list, of female sports heroes, and of film and theatre actresses. This book takes a comprehensive look at the work of this startling and innovative Paris fashion designer. "Shocking!" explores the Italian-born designer's career from its modernist beginnings in the 1920s to the closing of her salon in 1954. Author Dilys Blum discusses in detail Schiaparelli's impact on and relationship with the American fashion industry, the foundation of her great success. She also addresses how Schiaparelli's early designs were acclaimed for the architectural quality of her silhouettes and her use of unconventional materials. After 1935 the designer's collections took on a new identity, partly from her close relationship with the Parisian artistic community, which included Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, and Alberto Giacometti. Illustrated with over 300 captivating reproductions of Schiaparelli clothing and accessories, this book also includes contemporary photos of her designs by such key fashion photographers as Horst and Cecil Beaton and sketches and stills from the films and plays with which she was associated. Together the text and illustrations celebrate a masterful designer who defined dressmaking as an art rather than a profession.

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If you're a fashionista who's not a babe, you look for clothes that create attention all by themselves. That was the secret of Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian designer who gave women unusual textures, eccentric patterns and surprising shapes influenced by the Surrealist artists in her circle. In Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli--a winking reference to her most famous perfume as well as to her designing audacity--Dilys E. Blum celebrates the couturiere whose achievements have long been eclipsed by her rival, Coco Chanel. A frustrated sculptor, Schiaparelli invested many of her garments of the 1930s and '40s with an architectural quality, from aerodynamic, back-swept bustles and overskirts dramatically curved back over themselves to stiff, fan-shaped peplums. She created a hat in the shape of an upside-down shoe, made comfy leopard-skin booties, and incorporated such novelties as monkey fur and Rhodophane, a transparent man-made fabric. Her clothes were worn by Mae West and heiress Millicent Rogers, by Helena Rubenstein and French film star Arletty. At her most eccentric, inspired by the artist Man Ray, Schiaparelli produced suede gloves with red snakeskin fingernails. At her most practical, she designed a daring (in 1931) silk tennis costume with a divided skirt. More than 300 stunning photographs, both vintage and contemporary, and a detailed yet lively text made this book a must for anyone interested in the history of fashion. A coordinated exhibition of the same title is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, through Jan. 4, 2004, before traveling to Paris. --Cathy Curtis

About the Author:

Dilys E. Blum is the Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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Blum, Dilys E.
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